EXODUS 28:1-43 | MATTHEW 25:31-26:13 | PSALM 31:9-18 | PROVERBS 8:12-13
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It would take multiple readings to fully understand the excruciatingly detailed and unquestionably complex instructions that Moses receives from God to build all the furnishings of the Temple. All this, so that the people could approach God via the priests.
If nothing else, this entire passage serves to illustrate the hugely cumbersome exercise it was to engage in worship. And a very cold and distant God this appeared to be. An intercessor in the form of a priest was always needed to approach God. There was nothing direct, and certainly nothing personal about this manner of corporate worship.
There must surely have been a purpose for God to have set it up in this way, if not anything– and I’ll go out on a limb to say this — perhaps to make a point about the oppressive nature of worship of this kind. The kind that leaves you wondering if you’re doing the right thing, and whether or not your offerings are even acceptable to God.
At all times there is this lingering fear and trepidation about whether the wrath of God might come crashing down on you. After all, what if the priests misinform you, or what if they don’t convey your sentiments to God in the way you had intended? What if this, what if that? Alas, I don’t see any love flowing either way; I see only fear.
And so we shall see how this might work out in the days to come. I do believe God himself might tire of this well before the people do!
But until then, let us turn to our reading in the Book of Mathew. We see Jesus speak of the Great Judgment Day, and wouldn’t you know it, it is not the high-and-mighty and the oh-so-righteous folks that have a place set aside for them in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jesus explains it like this: 34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, f‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
As we fast approach the time of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, there is the beautiful account of the woman who brings the expensive jar of alabaster and chooses to give it all to Jesus as a present. It isn’t a waste, you see. It is an extravagant show of love and devotion. And it doesn’t always have to make sense. When there is such great love, things don’t always make sense. You express it in the way that best makes sense to you and only you. Such must have been the thinking of the woman who anointed Jesus’ head with the expensive perfume.
We turn now to the Psalms, and find David’s psalm for the day is another one in which David is pouring out his heart to God. This is one man who was unabashed in expressing both praise and grief, and always had the utter confidence in approaching God with his paeans. David might as well be echoing our own thoughts and pleas when he says:
14 But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hands;
deliver me from my enemies
and from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant;
save me in your unfailing love.
Finally, a few verses from the Book of Proverbs in which we hear Wisdom’s words via the pen of Solomon, wise king of Israel:
12 “I, wisdom, dwell together with prudence;
I possess knowledge and discretion.
13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil;
I hate pride and arrogance,
evil behavior and perverse speech.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.