Monday, March 24, 2014

Exodus 27:20-21 Lamps and the Light of the World

"Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives
for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning.

In the Tent of Meeting,
outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony,
Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD
from evening till morning.

This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites
for the generations to come."

Exodus 27:20-21 (NIV)

The NIV Study Bible notes on these verses inform us that unripe olives were crushed in a mortar, then placed in a cloth basket so that the oil could drip through, producing a clear fuel which burned with little or no smoke.

Aaron and his sons were to keep these lamps burning from evening till morning.  The lamps were outside the curtain which is in front of the ark of the covenant/ark of the Testimony.  Previously I had written about this curtain, which was made of blue, scarlet and purple yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it.  (Exodus 26:30-33)  Since this curtain separated the Most Holy Place, where the ark of the Testimony was set, from the Holy Place, it had these cherubim worked into the design not only for beauty, but as a warning that no one should approach the Most Holy Place carelessly.  Its symbolism harks back to the time when Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden and God placed cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life, so that Adam and Eve in their sinful state should not take of the tree of life and live forever in that condition. (Genesis 3:22-24)

Only the high priest was allowed to enter into the Holy of Holies -- and that only once a year on the Day of Atonement.  Before he did so, he had to purify himself and offer a sacrifice for  his own sins, before coming before God's presence in order to intercede on behalf of the Israelites:

"Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.  He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.  This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people." (Hebrews 5:1-3 NIV)

Interestingly, at the very moment when Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, the curtain in Herod's temple tore from top to bottom, signaling that the sacrifice Christ made on the cross had opened the way for the believer to approach God directly -- and that no further sacrifice needed to be made on man's behalf, for Jesus Christ had offered his own blood as an atoning sacrifice for our sins:

Mark 15:37-38  (NIV) "With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.  The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.  And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!' " 

Hebrews 6:19-20 (NIV) "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.  He has become a High Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek."

Hebrews 10:19-22  (NIV) "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."

No comments:

Post a Comment