Coverings

“Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine woven linen and blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim you shall weave them.

“You shall also make curtains of goats’ hair, to be a tent over the tabernacle.

“You shall also make a covering of ram skins dyed red for the tent, and a covering of badger skins above that.  Exodus 26:1, 7, 14 NKJV.

Then all the gifted artisans among them who worked on the tabernacle made ten curtains woven of fine linen, and of blue, purple, and scarlet thread; with artistic designs of cherubim they made them…that it might be one tabernacle.

He made curtains of goats’ hair for the tent over the tabernacle,

Then he made a covering for the tent of ram skins dyed red, and a covering of badger skins above that.  Exodus 36:8, 13, 14, 19 NKJV.

Again we have given both the instructions for the tabernacle and some details of its construction.  We’ve done this to show how careful Bezalel and the crew of people working with him were to follow what God told them.

Just thinking about it, I could probably do a post just on the word, “careful,” which occurs more than 50 times in Scripture.  Yes, I checked, just to be “carefu,” as I notice I originally typed that word in the first sentence.

* sigh *

A tent, with three coverings.

What does it all mean?

The tent itself was made of fine woven linen covered with artistic designs of cherubim.

Oh, there’s a world of thought just in that idea: artistic designs.  When one looked at entrance to the tabernacle, he saw a work of art.  Granted, it wasn’t “art” just for the sake of being pretty.  It meant something.  The tabernacle was an expression of His holiness, as signified by the presence of the cherubim.  The priest was reminded that he was entering the presence of God.

And when God Himself began to create….!  This world, this solar system, this universe, are all works of art.  No matter how far “down” one may go with a microscope or how far “out” with a telescope, there is order and beauty and design.  The human body itself is an amazing, intricate work of art, with each part doing its bit and the whole working together as a unit.

Speaking of that, if evolution were true and time had weeded out those unable to “survive,” wouldn’t that tend toward obscurity?  By that, I mean, wouldn’t “natural selection” tend to “select” those who “fit in” and didn’t “stand out” to the notice of predators?  Wouldn’t the “colorful” creatures be more likely to be caught and eaten than their more drab cousins, and, therefore, not be able to pass their genes on to a next generation?  Wouldn’t “nature” tend to become more “drab” with the passing of time?

But that’s not what we see!  Color is everywhere!  Just in our backyard, there are robins and bluejays and woodpeckers.  One year, some robins built their nest on our porchlight.  Some others a couple of years later tried it, but they weren’t as skillful and the nest fell to the ground, breaking three light blue eggs.  Beautiful butterflies flit around the shrubbery.  Even the ants! – red or black.  One morning, there was a bright yellow caterpillar crawling across our patio.  Sharon and I wondered what it would turn into.  The grass is green – at least in the Springtime.  The lilac at the side of our garage bursts into a cloud of purple contrasting with the yellow rose at its base.  If we’re “lucky,” the wind isn’t blowing across the lake, bringing dreary clouds, so that it’s a beautiful sunny day.

Then you go to the tropics!  The birds!  And there’s the world of tropical fish, in which I was immersed as a teenager.  (Sorry.)  There’s very little more beautiful than a tank full of neon tetras in a dark aquarium with good lighting.  Siamese fighting fish.  Fancy guppies.  Sailfin mollies.  The list goes on and on.  And that doesn’t count the saltwater world, where we find Nemo and his colorful cousins and friends.

The evolutionary “scientist” is just too blind and stubborn to see.  All this beauty and artistry could not have just “happened,” any more than a Rembrandt or a Picasso.

We know there was an artist behind their art.

It’s only that greatest of all masterpieces, creation itself, that’s said to have “just happened.”

But, “sin entered” and slashed the canvas.

However, just as the world of art has people skilled in “restoration,” so God will more than skillfully restore His creation.  Cf. Romans 8:21-23,

For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.  Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

The tabernacle was a work of art, portraying for us the wonderful work of redemption.

Its fine linen speaks of righteousness, as we’ve seen.  The spotless, sinless Son of God, who didn’t come just to tell us about the God of heaven, or show Him to us, but to bring us to Him.

There was a curtain of goats’ hair covering the tabernacle itself.

This speaks of substitution.  In Leviticus 16, we read:

[Aaron] shall take from the congregation of the children of Israel two kids of the goats as a sin offering…
He shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.  Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats:  one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat.  And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the LORD’s lot fell, and offer it as a sin offering.  But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness, 
Leviticus 16:5, 7-10 NKJV.

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV.

There’s an expression about someone “being the goat,” that is, taking the blame, when something goes wrong.  This is where the expression came from.  There’s a terrible interpretation by a certain group that says the goat in Leviticus 16 refers to Satan.  That’s impossible.  He will bear sin, to be sure, his own, for ever and ever in the lake of fire, Revelation 20:10.  But he will never pay for it, never atone for the ruin it brought.

No, no.

This is a picture of the Lord Jesus on the Cross, bearing away our sins forever.  He was our Substitute, taking our blame.

Then there’s a covering of ram skins dyed red over the goats’ hair.  Surely, this brings to mind the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 and Abraham’s famous answer to a question from Isaac:  “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”

We’re so used to the idea of Christ dying on the Cross that we seldom if ever really think about it.  There were three men hanging on crosses that day.  Two of them were indeed dying because of their own sin.

The other one?

He was dying because of mine….

He was our Sacrifice.

Over that covering, and the one that was seen, was a covering of badger skins.  Some scholars believe that should be translated, “porpoise” skins.  They would certainly be waterproof and provide excellent covering and protection for the tabernacle.  They speak of security.

But they would be nothing to look at.

Isn’t that how the Scripture describes our Lord?

He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.  He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not, Isaiah 53:2, 3 NKJV.

If He passed us on the street today, we’d hardly give Him a second glance.

There’s nothing about Him to attract “the natural man,” the unsaved, the lost.  That One we’re not interested in until the grace of God knocks us to the ground, so to speak, like it did Saul of Tarsus.

And the durability of the covering foreshadows the durability of the Word of God and the Gospel.  For 2000 years or more, men have tried their best to get rid of the Bible and some of their efforts remain with us to this day:  Marx, Freud, Dewey, Wellhausen, Kierkegaard, just to mention some recent names, some of them perhaps unfamiliar, but their teachings pollute our Christian culture and our thinking to this day.  Every aspect of life has been infiltrated by them.  But the Word of God remains, and will remain, if another 2000 years go by until our Lord returns.

Speaking of Saul, his two questions on the road to Damascus serve us well here.

“Who are you, Lord?” Acts 9:5.

Until this moment, Saul was fully convinced that he knew who Jesus was:  an interloper, a heretic, someone to be destroyed at all costs, Acts 26:9.

But then he met Him.

The last thing he probably expected from the glory which knocked him to the ground was the answer, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,” Acts 22:8, emphasis added.

The trouble with modern churchianity is that a lot of church members have never met the Christ of the Bible.  They have a Christ they can “worship” on Sunday morning, but then pretty much forget the rest of the week.

Oh, but to really see Him, not in some esoteric vision or other, but in and through the Word.  Seeing that He loved me and gave Himself for me!  That He died for me!

This One who is not just another prophet, not just another religious personality, but God incarnate, come to take my place!

It is then we finally understand the words of John Newton, a slave trader who wound up being a slave himself before God caught him:  Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me.  I once was lost, but now am found.  ‘Twas blind, but now I see.

Saul’s next question followed from the first:

“Lord, what do you want me to do?” Acts 9:6.

None of us is called to be “the apostle to the Gentiles,” Romans 11:13.  Most of us are not called to “full-time Christian service,” although that’s a misnomer.  There is no such thing as ” ‘part-time’ Christian service.”  It’s not just “a job.”  Not everyone is called to stand behind a pulpit; most of us are called to sit in the pew, though I’m giving away my age.  There may be something called a pulpit on the stage, but now we sit in comfortable chairs.  We are called to serve, even if not in front of an audience.  There’s a need for Christian janitors, too.  Christians who work in every field of lawful endeavor.  Christians who show by the work they do that they are not of this world.  That they work for more than just a paycheck or benefits.

We are called on to “do” something.  Wherever we find ourselves in life, and whatever we find ourselves doing, there is where we are to “serve God.”  Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

That is what the Lord would have us to do.

 

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“Do Not Sin Against the Child!”

“Do not sin against the child,” Genesis 42:22, KJV.

This comment is by Reuben as he and his brothers were in the presence of the brother, Joseph, whom they thought they had gotten rid of several years earlier.  Joseph had been a pain in the side especially of some of his brothers who were sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob’s concubines, as he “tattled” on them, Genesis 37:2.  Unbeknownst to Reuben, his brothers had sold Joseph to a passing caravan.  But now, years later, here he was, and the past was very much now the present!

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while, even on vacation when I didn’t hardly go near a computer, hence the long time since the last post.

My grandmother used to tell a story about her own family when she was a child.  She had 10 or 11 brothers and sisters and whenever company came to visit, they were all required to sit on the sofa and be quiet.  People today laugh such an idea to scorn.

From my own youth I remember the dictum that “children should be seen and not heard.”  Again, such an idea is laughed out of court.

Why?

Consider a newborn child.  He has no idea about anything except his own immediate surroundings and needs.  If he is wet, hungry, tired, or any number of other things, he lets it be known in no uncertain terms that he is not happy.  He doesn’t care how it happens – he wants to be happy.

Now, there is nothing wrong with this.  He is a baby.  He doesn’t know anything else.   He doesn’t know any better.

However…

He grows up.

Then what??

That fact that he grows up is why God created parents and the family – to prepare little ones to be adults.  After all, baby animals are often able to cope on their own after just a few weeks.  Not so, human babies.  It may be they will learn most of what they will ever learn in their first few years, but no five-year old is ready for his own apartment.  He has a long way to go.

A baby is absolutely self-centered.  That’s to be expected; he’s just been born.

Parents are expected – nay, required – to teach their little ones that there are other “selfs” in this world and there are things their little ones need to know as they’re going to live among and interact with these others.

Parents are also there to teach their little one that there is something called “authority,” and that he isn’t it!

Because … there is an ultimate authority – God.

God has a lot to say about this in His Word – the only “parenting manual” we need!  Sigmund Freud and the atheist (or “Christian”) psychologists and psychiatrists who follow his or similar philosophies have more to answer for than we can possibly begin to imagine.

In Deuteronomy 11:18, God commanded Israel, “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets [a decorative band or ornament worn] between your eyes.  “These words of mine” refer to what God said in v. 1, “Therefore you shall love the Lord your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always.”  Continuing in v. 19, He said, You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” emphasis added.  You, the parent, shall teach them, not the Sunday School, not the school, not “children’s church,” not some “children’s ministry.”  YOU.  (And, yes, I know they didn’t have those things in the Old Testament.  There’s no mention of them in the New Testament, either.)  It is the parents’ responsibility, not someone else’s.  The other things I mentioned may be useful, but they are to be strictly secondary.  Cf. also Joshua 4:4-7.

In Deuteronomy 6:20, 21, God commanded, When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which the LORD our God commanded us?’ then you shall say, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and the LORD brought us out with a mighty hand.’

Children are inherently curious.  God says that we parents are to use that trait to teach them about the things of God.  And when it comes right down to it, when push comes to shove and the kid wants to know why he should do something, “because I said so, that’s why!”  (Howls and groans from “modern” thinkers.)  Parents are not perfect, by any means (ask my own children), but they are parents.

So important is the role of parents that it was a death-penalty sin for an older child to disrespect his parents.  Babies and toddlers don’t know any better, but an older child was responsible for his rebellion:  “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.  He has cursed his father or his mother.  His blood shall be upon him,” Leviticus 20:9, Exodus 21:17.  Same thing if he hit either of them, Exodus 21:15.  In fact, God required that the Israelite to “honor your father and your mother,” Exodus 20:12.  The word translated “honor” could be translated, “give weight to.”

Years later, when Israel was being judged for its sin, God said one of those sins was, “they have made light of father and mother,” Ezekiel 22:7.

Isaiah 3:12, As for My people, children are their oppressors,…”

While this is spoken about Israel, we see it all around us today.  Little ones in the supermarket or the restaurant screaming and having fits because they’re not getting their way, and their parents having no idea what to do….  Teenagers interrupting government functions or “protesting” on some street corner….  Schools requiring “security officers” because children have been turned into monsters.

Much of the problem has come because psychologists and psychiatrists believe children to be a “blank slate,” on which the proper education, etc., can write and turn out outstanding and useful adults.

Is that true?

Psalm 58:3 says, They go astray from the womb, speaking lies.”  While that verse refers specifically to “the wicked,” experience tells us that it’s universally true.

Tell me, any of you who read this blog and have children, did you have to teach them to lie?  To be dishonest?  To take that which isn’t their’s?  To be selfish and not “share”?

Or did they come by it “naturally”?

So, you see, parents have a great responsibility to teach their children to mind, to obey – and yes, I recognize that’s “old-fashioned.”  There’s another old saying:  “As the twig is bent, so the tree is formed.”  After a tree is grown, it’s too late to try to make it straight if it’s crooked.  That has to be done when the tree is still a “twig”; it’s still young and supple and malleable.  The same with that young life.  That’s the time to teach and train it, not when it’s course has pretty well been set and it’s been confirmed in rebellion.

Remember, what’s “cute” at three or four will likely not be cute at 8 or 12 or 32.

And remember, you’re preparing your child not only for time, but for eternity.

Do not sin against the child – or the adult he or she will become.