The Tabernacle Part 2

The Tabernacle and its courtyard contained various furnishings that Moses was commanded to make according to the designs the Lord gave him.   We discussed the structure of the Tabernacle and Courtyard in the last post.  This time, we shall look at the furniture.

Just as Jesus was the gate of the sheep pen, He’s also the gate of the courtyard through which everyone must come in order to have eternal life. 

People who came to the Tabernacle should have had one goal in mind — to worship the Lord.  Before that could take place, sin against God and trespasses against others had to be atoned, forgiveness received, and restitution made according to God’s commandments.  This always required an offering at the altar of sacrifice.

The Sacrificial Altar was 7 ½ feet long, 7 ½ feet wide, and 4 ½ feet high [5 cubits L X 5 cubits W X 3 cubits H].  It was made of planks, was hollow inside, and had a horn on each of the 4 corners.  This altar was overlaid with bronze instead of gold.  It had a grate of bronze netting with a bronze ring on each corner (4 in all) – placed under rim of altar, half way up the altar.  Pots for the ashes, shovels, basins, meat hooks, and fire pans for the altar were made of bronze.  Poles for the altar were overlaid with bronze, placed into the rings — one pole on each side to carry it.

The Sacrificial Altar was necessary in order to properly lift up offerings to the Lord.  The sin and guilt sacrifices provided atonement and forgiveness for sin and trespasses.  Whole burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings, and peace offerings were primarily offered after these to draw near to the Lord and worship Him.  The symbolism of the offerings was manifested in the work of Christ when He died for us but it was also a picture of what will happen to the righteous and the wicked when the Day of Judgment comes.

A Bronze Laver was also in the courtyard.  It was set on a bronze base between the altar and the Tabernacle of Meeting.  It was made from the bronze mirrors of the women who served at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting.   The laver was filled with water with which Moses, Aaron, and his sons washed their hands and feet whenever they came near the altar or went into the Tabernacle of Meeting.

I believe the water contained in the bronze laver can be compared to Jesus who is the source of Living Water.  Zechariah 13:1 explains water is necessary to cleanse His people from sin and impurity. 

Christians usually see their position in Christ as secure because of Jesus’ sacrifice and often forget the need to regularly cleanse their hands and feet at the laver to restore fellowship with God that is occasionally broken due to sins and trespasses. 

James 1:23-25 compares the Word of God to a mirror in which we, as believers need to examine ourselves regularly.  When we fail to obey God’s word, we have sinned.  Ephesians 5:26 tells us Jesus gave His life so that we could be sanctified and cleansed with “the washing of the water of the word.”  When we look into the mirror of God’s word, we are often convicted of sins or trespasses.  First John 1:9 encourages us to acknowledge our sins so that God will forgive them and purify us from all unrighteousness.  This is what washing oneself at the laver which was made from bronze mirrors is all about.

Once our fellowship with the Lord and others is restored, we are free to move into the Tent of Meeting where previously only the priests could go because we are members of a kingdom of priests and a holy nation unto God.  The first section of the Tabernacle is the Holy Place where we encounter the menorah.  It was made from a single piece of pure hammered gold.  It had a central shaft with six branches (3 on each side).  Each branch had 3 cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with a ring of outer leaves and petals.  The central shaft had 4 cups shaped like almond blossoms each with a ring of outer leaves and petals.  There was also a ring of outer leaves where each branch joined the central shaft.  Seven lamps were mounted on the menorah that burned pure olive oil.  The accompanying tongs and trays used to service the menorah were made of pure gold too.

Revelation 4:5 shows us that seven Spirits of God were burning before the throne.  This matches the imagery and location of the menorah.

Most of the time, people say the menorah represents Christ who was the light of the world.  They may even associate it with the Holy Spirit because it was fueled by olive oil.

Let’s see if we can glean any other meaning from the menorah. 

Note the description of the menorah and its almond blossoms.  Usually   almond blossoms have 5 petals.  The number 5 represents grace.  The number 3 represents the resurrection or new life of/in Christ.  The number 6 represents man.  Therefore, man can receive new life by God’s grace through faith in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Together with the Spirit of God, mankind is made complete which is represented by the number 7.

Remember, Aaron had to tend the menorah daily.  The lamps needed to be cleaned, the wicks needed to be changed, and the supply of oil had to be re-filled.  The same can be said of our lives.  Think about and do what needs to be done in your spiritual life each day so you can walk by the power of the Holy Spirit and let your light shine before men.

Isaiah 11:1-2 unveils the menorah in this way, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”  NKJV

It is evident from this passage that the Spirit of the Lord (YHWH) is the central shaft with the branches being the other characteristics of the Spirit.  If the menorah were placed on its side, it would be easy to see that the opposite/paired branches correspond to each other like a chiastic structure that points to the central shaft of the Spirit of the Lord.  All of these rested upon Jesus, the Son of David.  Ask God to allow them to rest on you as well.

In addition to the menorah was a table for the Bread of the Presence (Showbread).  The table was 3 feet long, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches high [2 cubits L X 1 cubit W X 1.5 cubit H].  This table was made out of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.  It had a rim around it that was a handbreadth wide with a molding of gold around it.  Four gold rings for the poles were attached to corners near the legs and rim of the table.  Poles of acacia wood covered with gold were placed through these rings and used to carry the table in a manner similar to that of the Ark of the Covenant.  Dishes, pans, bowls, and pitchers of pure gold were made for use with this table.  This implies that there was also a drink offering such as wine to accompany the twelve loaves of bread and frankincense that were placed on the table each Sabbath (Lev. 24:5-9).

Many have tried to understand the purpose of the Table of Showbread.  In Hebrew, showbread is called lechem happaniym which can be translated as the “Bread of the Faces” or “Bread of the Presence.”  The Greek Septuagint uses artous tees protheseoos which is translated as “bread loaves of the place setting.”  Taken together, these translations can give us some understanding of the purpose of this bread. 

First of all, it was a holy offering given to the Lord.  The people from the 12 tribes of Israel gave flour to the priests who used it to bake 12 loaves of bread to place in the presence of the Lord.  They were arranged on the table in two rows with 6 loaves and frankincense in each row.  Even though the bread was put on the place setting of the Lord, He didn’t eat this bread.  The High priest and his sons ate it in a holy place because it was an offering made by fire (Ex. 25:30; Lev. 24:5-9).    

Nonbelievers might say that the bread didn’t magically disappear during the week because God doesn’t exist; therefore the priests ate it for Him.  That’s not what is going on here.  Consider this.  Many people desire to come into God’s presence but can’t due to sin against God, trespasses against others, and the physical limitations between heaven and earth.  The priests were commanded to set this table before the Lord and they obeyed.  Whether they realized it or not, their actions were saying, “Lord, this bread is a holy offering for You.  Come be with us and eat with us.”  Eventually, God overcame man’s limitations and did better than what they pleaded for by sending Jesus, the Bread of Life to physically be in the presence of His people.  During that time, the Son of Man ate and drank with His friends face to face.  Even after Jesus died as an offering for sin and rose from the dead, He appeared to the disciples and asked them, “Have you any food here?”  They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish and some honeycomb and He took it and ate in their presence.   This showed that Jesus still intended to fellowship with His people even though He would soon return to heaven (Revelation 3:20-21).  Although Jesus is now in heaven, He accomplished the goal of making it possible for us to come boldly through the veil into the Most Holy Place and one day see Him face to face (Heb. 10:19-23).  Certainly, we’ll eat together at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb at the appointed time.

The last thing in the Holy Place was the Altar of Incense which stood before the veil and the Ark of the Covenant which was on the opposite side of the veil in the Most Holy Place.  The Altar of Incense was sometimes referred to as the Golden Altar because it was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.  It measured 7 ½ feet long, 7 ½ feet wide, and 4 ½ feet tall [1 cubit L X 1 cubit W X 2 cubits H].  It had a molding of gold all around it with horns on each of its 4 corners.  There were 2 gold rings, under the molding on both sides (total of 4) through which 2 poles of acacia wood overlaid with gold were positioned.  

Aaron, the High Priest was to burn incense on this altar every morning and at dusk as he tended the lamps of the menorah.  The incense that was burned on this altar was of a particular recipe—equal parts of stacte, onycha, galbanum, and pure frankincense, made according to the art of a perfumer, salted, pure, and holy for the Lord.  No other incense was to be used on this altar.  Anyone who made any like it to smell it was to be cut off from his people.  This altar was not for other kinds of offerings.  Once a year the High Priest made atonement for it with the blood of the bull and the goat on the Day of Atonement to purify it and set it apart from the uncleanness of the people of Israel.

There’s not much the Bible says about the Altar of Incense except that the incense is the prayers of the saints who live throughout the four corners of the earth (Revelation 5:8).  Of all the prayers that have ever been offered, surely Jesus’ prayers were most holy – especially the prayers He offered the night He sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal.   Surely this is thematically connected to the Day of Atonement.  Like the incense, Jesus was unique because He was sinless.  After appearing to His disciples over 40 days, Jesus returned to heaven in the clouds in a manner similar to the rising smoke of incense as it was burned many years ago.

On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest could enter past the Altar of Incense and the veil into the Most Holy Place to stand before the Ark of the Covenant.  The ark was 3 ¾ feet long, 2 ¼ feet wide, and 2 ¼ feet high [2.5 cubits L X 1.5 cubits W X 1.5 cubits H].  It was made of acacia wood which the Greek Septuagint calls incorruptible wood.  The ark was overlaid inside and outside with gold and had a molding of gold around the top of it.  Four gold rings were attached to its 4 feet, 2 rings on each side.  Poles of acacia wood were overlaid with gold and passed through the rings so the ark could be carried without touching the ark itself.  These poles were not to be removed.

The cover for the Ark of Covenant was known as the Mercy Seat.  It was 3 ¾ feet long, 2 ¼ feet high [2.5 cubits L X 1.5 cubits H] and made of pure gold.  It had 2 cherubim on it (one cherub at each end) which were one with the cover.  The cherubim faced each other with their wings spread out toward each other and covered the top of the cover.  The Mercy Seat was God’s throne where God met with Moses and His High Priests, from between the two cherubim which were on it.

The Mercy Seat and the Ark of the Covenant are often thought of as God’s portable throne and footstool.  As such they can be compared to heaven and earth (Is. 66:1).  As a single unit, it was both a throne of judgment and grace.  In some ways it was comparable to Ezekiel’s vision of God’s chariot (Ezek. 1:4-28). Finally, it was a copy of what was in heaven (Rev. 11:19).

Most importantly, the Ark of the Covenant portrayed Israel’s salvation and relationship with God.   It contained the Testimony which established the marriage covenant between God and His people.  The ark was made of incorruptible wood which signified Jesus who was sinless.  The molding of gold around the top of the ark could represent Jesus’ kingly crown or kingdom.  The Ark held a jar of manna in the wilderness which depicted Jesus as the source of life. The Ark also contained the rod of Aaron which had been used to perform awesome wonders in Egypt.  This same scepter had budded, blossomed, and brought forth almonds signifying God’s choice concerning Aaron and the house of Levi during rebellious times.  This staff demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles including resurrection and the authority to rule God’s kingdom.

Now that we’ve looked at the furniture of the Tabernacle, we should regularly:

  • Remember to approach God with praise and thanksgiving for His grace and mercy.
  • Confess our sins and trespasses and make any necessary restitution to others so we can be cleansed. 
  • Offer our entire lives to Him in worship. 
  • Walk in the Spirit and not give in to the desires of the flesh. 
  • Eat the Lord’s Supper, remembering His death for us and our marriage covenant with Him until He returns. 
  • Offer our petitions to the Lord including intercession for others. 
  • Remember that one day we will stand before His throne face to face. 

The Tabernacle Part 1

After Jethro left Moses to return to his country, the people of Israel came to the Sinai Desert and set up camp in front of Mount Sinai.  It was here that God intended to marry His people Israel. 

Once the people were washed, sanctified, and had separated themselves for 3 days, God came and spoke the Ten Words or Ten Commandments to the people.  These words were the basis of the original marriage covenant that God had with His people.  The Jews and Christians identify the first two differently.  Here is a summary of what God said:

  1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt.  (The idea here is that we need to know that the Lord really does exist and He is the one who brought His people out of Egypt.)
  2. You are not to have any other gods besides Me nor make images of anything in heaven, earth, or sea in order to worship them because I’m a jealous God and will punish the children of the sins of the parents to the 3rd and 4th generation.  I will show mercy (chesed) to 1000th generation of those who love me and obey my commandments.
  3. Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God.
  4. Remember the Sabbath (7th) day and keep it holy by refraining from work because it has been blessed and set aside for rest since the time of creation.
  5. Honor your parents so you’ll live long in the Promised Land.
  6. Do not murder.
  7. Do not commit adultery.
  8. Do not steal.
  9. Do not give false witness/evidence against your neighbor.
  10. Do not covet (desire) your neighbor’s things.

God gave His people additional rulings or judgments (mishpatim) to follow as well.

After the marriage covenant was agreed to by the people, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders went up the mountain where they saw God and ate and drank with Him.  They must not have been on the top of the mountain but somewhere on the slope because later God wanted Moses to come up higher.  After telling the men to stay until they returned, Moses and Joshua went higher upon the mountain.  Moses then met with God for 40 days and nights. 

The location of the men on the slope of Mount Sinai represented how all priests could enter into the Holy Place of the Tabernacle while only the High Priest could come into the Most Holy Place.  Even though Moses and Joshua were not actual High Priests, they were types of Jesus, our High Priest and therefore able to ascend higher on the mountain.  The rest of the people were waiting beyond the boundary at the base of the mountain. 

Once Moses was with Him on the mountaintop, God asked Moses to take up a collection from the people in order to make the Tabernacle.  According to Exodus 25:3-7, the contributions included:

  • gold, silver and bronze
  • blue, purple and scarlet thread.
  • fine linen, goat’s hair, dyed ram skins
  • acacia-wood
  • oil for the light
  • spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense
  • onyx stones and other stones for the ritual vest and breastplate.

At that time, God showed Moses a pattern for the Tabernacle and its furnishings which would allow God to dwell among His people.  The Tabernacle and the items associated with it were to be built according to the precise instructions and pattern God gave Moses because they were a copy of heavenly things. 

The Tabernacle was made of a total of ten linen (shesh) curtains that were 42 feet long and 6 feet wide [28 X 4 cubits].  They were woven with blue, purple, and scarlet thread.  In addition, cherubim were woven into them.  Two sets of five curtains were joined together at the edge of the outermost curtains which had 50 blue loops each.  Fifty gold fasteners held the loops of both sets of curtains together in order to form a single unit.

The curtains of the Tabernacle were held upright on posts which were 15 feet long X 2 ¼ feet wide [10 X 1.5 cubits].  Each post had 2 projections which were inserted into 2 silver sockets.  There were 20 posts overlaid with gold for the south side, 20 more for the north side, and 8 posts for the west (back) side – that’s 6 with 1 extra on each corner.  The extra post on each corner was joined with another post to form a single corner using a single ring on each end.  Five crossbars for each side (N, S, W) were overlaid with gold and mounted mid-way up on the posts through gold rings.

A linen curtain (veil) was made with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and cherubim woven into it.  This curtain divided the Holy and Most Holy Place and was hung below the fasteners on 4 posts using gold hooks.  These posts were made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.  They stood in 4 silver sockets like the others.

The cherubim on the curtains should remind us of the ones placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden to prevent mankind from going back into the garden after Adam and Eve sinned.  As you imagine what the Tabernacle looked like, contemplate what the priests’ fellowship with God in the Tabernacle may have been like.

As you consider that, ponder the significance of the three main colors which were woven into the white linen. The colors of the Tabernacle fabric represent different things:

  • white > righteousness
  • blue > heaven; Holy Spirit
  • purple > royalty
  • scarlet > blood of atonement

Gold is one of the metals that are prevalent in the Tabernacle. It represents God’s kingdom and kingship.

Now let’s looks at the 3 coverings of the Tabernacle.

The first covering was made of eleven curtains of female goat (ez) hair.  Each curtain was 45 feet long and 6 feet wide [30 X 4 cubits].  This covering was composed of 1 set of five curtains and a 2nd set of six curtains with the sixth curtain folded double at the front.  One edge of each set of curtains had 50 blue loops on their outermost edge.  Bronze fasteners held the loops of both sets together to form a single unit.  The half curtain which remained hung over the back of the tabernacle.  The extra 18 inches [1 cubit] on each side hung over the bottom of the tabernacle.  The original covering made of female goat hair most likely represented the incarnate Christ who was born of a virgin woman.

The second covering was made of red dyed ram (ayil) skins and represented the blood atonement provided to God’s people by the blood of Christ. 

The third or final covering for the Tabernacle was made of tachash.  This Hebrew word is often translated as badger, sea cow, or porpoise in English; however, the Greek Septuagint uses the word huakinthinos which can be translated as jacinth or deep blue.  This led me to believe the final covering was made of ram skins which were dyed blue.  Since blue can represent the Holy Spirit, I believe the final covering represents the power of the Holy Spirit which came down on Jesus as a dove.

The Tabernacle was erected according to the pattern shown to Moses on the mountain.  Two things we should note about the Tabernacle are that:

  • All of the posts were set in silver sockets.  It is quite possible the silver shekels given as atonement money were used to make the silver sockets of the Tabernacle (Exodus 30:15).  Silver metal represents redemption.
  • Multiples of 5 are frequent in the sizes (when measured in cubits) of the Tabernacle and its furnishings.  Most Biblical scholars recognize that the number 5 represents grace.  Since this is the case, grace was not something new after Jesus’ resurrection but was present in the original pattern of the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle was set up inside the courtyard.  The courtyard was a place where anyone could enter.  It was made of curtains of finely woven linen:

  • The south side was 150 feet [100 cubits] long and was supported on 20 posts in 20 bronze sockets. 
  • The north side was also 150 feet [100 cubits] long and was supported on 20 posts in 20 bronze sockets.
  • The west side (width of courtyard) was 75 feet [50 cubits] long and was supported on 10 posts in 10 bronze sockets.
  • The east side was also a total of 75 feet [50 cubits] long but was divided into two sides (with a gateway in between them) – each side was 22 ½ feet long [15 cubits] and had 3 posts and 3 sockets. 
  • The gate was 30 feet [20 cubits] long and had 4 posts and 4 sockets.  It was made of linen woven with blue, purple, and scarlet thread. 
  • Silver hooks and rings were used to hang the curtains on the posts.  The posts were banded with silver and stood in bronze sockets.

Biblical scholars agree that bronze represents judgment.  One day, everyone will come to God’s courtyard in order to approach God’s white throne, stand before the Lord, and be judged.  In the meantime, we should obey Colossians 2:6-7 which says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”

In a way, these verses reveal that Jesus is the silver socket in which we stand by faith.

1 Thessalonians 3:8, 12-13 tells us, “For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord…. And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” 

If we desire a life of fellowship with the Lord now and eternal life later, we must trust in Jesus.  Only Jesus is able to make us stand blameless on the Day of Judgment.  This can only be accomplished because of the atonement He provided for us. 

Those who do not trust in Christ are not under the atonement covering of Christ.  They have not been redeemed.  They stand in the bronze sockets of the world which are outside the Tabernacle of Meeting. When the Day of Judgment comes, they will not stand and they will never be permitted to come into the eternal Promised Land.

Where do you stand?

Jethro Reunites Moses With His Family

In the beginning of Exodus 18, Jethro brought Zipporah and her sons to meet Moses after the defeat of the Amalekites.  Originally, Zipporah and the boys had been on their way to Egypt with Moses.  If you recall, one of their sons had been circumcised as they journeyed but at some point Jethro had taken them back.  Exodus 18:2 indicates Moses “had sent her back.”  This doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal in English.  Most people tend to think he sent her back because of a safety issue or because she and the boys would be in Moses’ way while he was in Egypt but the Hebrew word for the phrase “he had sent her back” raises a possibility we may not have considered before.  The Hebrew word is shilluach.  It means the dismissal of a wife as in divorce.  Whether it was a divorce or not, we know that at some point Zipporah and her sons returned to her father in Midian.  The book of Jasher suggests they were sent home when Aaron met them on the way to Egypt (Jasher 79:15-18); however, they were not reunited until after the defeat of the Amalekites.      

If we consider the possibility that Moses “sent away” his wife, we should examine its pattern for the future of Israel.  Even though God hates divorce, He divorced the Northern Kingdom of Israel and had them carried off by the Assyrians because of their idolatry, witchcraft, and soothsaying (2 Kings 17:16-18; Isaiah 50:1; Jer. 3:8).  That doesn’t mean God didn’t love His people.  He loved them but couldn’t tolerate their sin.  They failed to demonstrate their love for Him by obeying His commandments.  Once they were sent away, they were no longer His people but God still had a plan for them. 

As we probe the relationship of Zipporah and Moses, let’s not overlook their children.  God’s people are/will be like Moses’ children.  Moses’ first son was named Gershom because Moses was a stranger in a foreign land.  God’s people are currently strangers in foreign lands both physically and spiritually.  Many are scattered throughout the world but they are fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s family (Eph. 2:19).  Moses’ second son was named Eliezer because God was Moses’ help and delivered him from the sword of Pharaoh after he had killed an Egyptian.  When Jesus returns to earth, He will help His people and deliver them from their enemies who desire to rid them from the earth. 

Just as Moses’ father-in-law brought Zipporah and her sons back to Moses, the Lord will bring the houses of Ephraim and Judah back from the four corners of the earth to Israel and they will be His people (Isaiah 11:12; Hosea 1:10).  As the names of Gershom and Eliezer have significance, the meanings of Ephraim (fruitful) and Judah (praise) seem to foreshadow Revelation 7:9-10 which says there will be a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue who will cry out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 

As Exodus 18 continues, Moses bowed down to Jethro and kissed him.  For us, this appears to be an extravagant greeting.  As I wondered about this, I considered the meaning of the name Jethro or Yitro.  It means “his excellence.”  This is a title fit for a king.  With this in mind, it makes sense to give him such a greeting.  Imagine what it will be like after Jesus returns.  At the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord.  They will do this because He is King of kings, is most excellent, and is worthy to receive such an honor.

After greeting each other, Jethro and Moses entered the tent, shared what had been going on with each other, and visited together.  Moses was able to share with Jethro all the details of what had happened in Egypt, their exodus from there, and their travels to date.  Jethro, who had been a pagan priest up until that time finally realized that the Lord is greater than all the gods and made a burnt offering and other sacrifices to the Lord.  Aaron and the elders of Israel joined Moses and ate bread with Jethro before God.

In the future, Jesus will probably sit down with His two witnesses and the elders who usually sit on the 24 thrones and recount the details of the seals, trumpets, plagues, and the Battle of Armageddon.  They may discuss the resurrection of the saints and how Jesus healed the water that was made bitter by the third trumpet.  The wedding supper of the Lamb will take place.  All of this will certainly be a wonderful time.

The day after Moses, Aaron, and the elders ate with Jethro, Moses began to judge the people from morning until evening and help them know the statutes and laws of God.  Jethro saw how this would quickly wear Moses out considering the size of the multitude so he made a suggestion to ease this burden by spreading it among rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens and allowing them to judge the small things while bringing only the hard cases before Moses.

This will be similar to what will happen in the future.  According to Ezekiel 44, the Levitical priests who are the sons of Zadok will:

  • Minister before the Lord.
  • Offer sacrifices.
  • Teach God’s people the difference between the clean and unclean, and the holy and unholy.
  • Judge controversies according to God’s judgments.
  • Keep God’s laws, statutes in all His appointed meetings, and keep His Sabbaths holy.

This chapter does not specifically say but I assume that just as the priest used to consult the Urim and Thummim which were kept in the breastplate of judgment in the past, the priests will go to Jesus for difficult righteous judgments.  After all, He’s our High Priest, Prophet, and King.

The Defeat of the Amalekites

In Exodus 17, Moses brought forth water from a rock at Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling).   After that, Amalek came and fought with Israel at Refidim.  Scripture continues by telling us that Joshua led the Israelites into battle while Moses stood on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand. 

At first Moses’ location may not seem too unusual considering he is an old man.  It seems only natural that the younger generation should go into battle.  The Scriptures also tell us that Aaron and Hur accompanied Moses up the hill and when Moses’ hand was raised up, Israel was winning but when he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 

This may seem to be an odd way to win a battle but our story continues to baffle us.  As time went on, it became more difficult for Moses to keep his hands raised.  Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under Moses so he could sit on it.  Aaron and Hur stood on opposite sides of Moses to keep his hands steady until sunset.  As a result of this, Joshua was able to defeat the people of Amalek with the sword. 

After the Amalekites were defeated, the Lord told Moses to write a memorial of this event in a book.  The Lord continued by promising to utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.  Moses then built an altar and called its name, “The Lord Is My Banner” because the Lord swore to have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

As we’ve already mentioned, this appears to be a very strange historical event that resulted in victory.  Many would be quick to read past it looking for some other passage of Scripture to apply to their lives but the fact it was recorded was for a purpose.  I believe it was written to give God’s people snapshots of the future.

Ever since this battle took place, God intended for the Amalekites to be destroyed.  In Deuteronomy 25:17-19, Israel was commanded:   “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.”  NKJV

Even by Samuel’s day, King Saul said he had destroyed Amalek according to the command of the Lord but he had failed to properly obey Him by completely wiping them out.  Since Saul did not kill King Agag and the best of their animals, Samuel killed King Agag and told Saul that because of his disobedience, the Lord was going to hand him over to the Philistines (1 Sam. 15).  Despite this battle, a remnant of the Amalekites survives to this day.

We know this is true because Numbers 24:20 says, “Then he [Balaam] looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said:  “Amalek was first among the nations, But shall be last until he perishes.”  NKJV

Many years after Balaam’s prophecy took place, Jesus was born and raised.  Toward the end of His ministry, the Jews hoped He would be their Messiah and King.  They wanted Him to throw off the power of the Romans but this was not God’s plan at the time.  Jesus was going to become what Moses, Aaron, and Hur pictured long ago as He died with His arms raised up on a wooden cross between two thieves.  At that time, a major spiritual battle was taking place.  Even though it was only the early afternoon, it became dark as if the sun had already gone down.   At the time of the evening sacrifice, Jesus died on the cross yet was victorious in the spiritual realm.  Jesus was quickly buried in a tomb that was cut from a rock before the first High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.  Three days later, there was a great earthquake because an angel of the Lord had come down from heaven and rolled away the stone.  As the angel sat on this stone, he told the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body to go in and see that Jesus’ body was gone because He had risen from the dead (Matt 28:1-7).

Now let’s fast forward to the future.  While Moses, Aaron, and Hur were a picture of what would eventually happen to Jesus, Joshua was a picture of what Jesus will do when He returns on the Day of the Lord.  As we look at that, it’s important to note what brings about Jesus’ return.

Psalms 83:1-8 says, “Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! 2 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. 3 They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. 4 They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” 5 For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: 6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; 7 Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot.”  NKJV

As you can see, many nations plan to come against Israel in the last days.  On the Day of the Lord, Jesus, who is called Faithful and True will return on a white horse to judge and make war against them. He will literally be the Banner of Israel as He leads His armies who will be following Him on white horses.   A sharp sword will go out of His mouth to strike the nations.   Just as Joshua (also called Yeshua) defeated the Amalekites with the sword in Moses’ day, Yeshua (also called Jesus; also means salvation) will defeat all of Israel’s enemies including the Amalekites with His sword. 

Eventually, the Great White throne judgment will take place.  Books will be opened including the Book of Life.  The dead will be judged according to what they had done.  Anyone whose name had been blotted out of the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. 

Take the time to read Psalm 9 to see how David must have seen all of this coming long ago.  David encouraged everyone to sing praise to the Lord and to proclaim His deeds among the people.  He tells us:

  • The Avenger of Blood (Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer) remembers Israel’s enemies.
  • The names of Israel’s enemies will be blotted out forever.
  • The Avenger of Blood will execute judgment.
  • The wicked will return to hell. 

Praise His holy name!