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Have you ever attempted to read God’s Word “from cover to cover?” It is well worth the effort, and much learning can come from it, but you will encounter some challenges. For instance, what about those long sections in the Old Testament that seem to have nothing to do with me?
2 Timothy 3:16
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.
God assures us that all of His Word is profitable (even the “begats!”) because it was all given by Him.
Take the tabernacle. As you may know, the tabernacle was the place where God was worshipped and where sacrifices were performed before the children of Israel were completely settled in the Promised Land.
The tabernacle was made up of basically two parts: the outer section, called the court, where sacrifices were made, and the inner section, the holy place, not a place of sacrifice, but a place of worship. It was to this inner section that the priest would bring tokens of the sacrifice and display them before God, demonstrating that the price of transgression had been paid.
The design of the tabernacle was given to Moses by God in very specific detail, as recorded in the book of Exodus. In reading chapter after chapter of materials and measurements, the Christian may begin to wonder why God bothered recording these matters.
For example, the sockets. The tabernacle, being a tent, was held up by poles, or pillars, and these remained upright by being set into metal bases (called sockets in the King James Version). God not only numbers these sockets, but specifies the materials from which they are to be made.
If that isn’t puzzling enough, the careful reader will note that the sockets differ! The sockets of the holy place were to be made of silver [Exodus 26:19–25], while those of the court were to be made of brass (or bronze) [Exodus 27:10–18]. What possible difference could that make to me?
Perhaps it would help to briefly examine the significance of these two metals. A very pointed reference to brass can be found in Deuteronomy 28, a chapter which discusses the curse of the law in great detail.
And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
Bronze figuratively stands for the heaviness of guilt and judgment. Additionally, some scholars tell us that because it was made up of other metals, brass also symbolized impurity.
Silver has come to symbolize redemption, in that, under the law, injury or loss of life was to be paid for in silver. You might also note that the life of our redeemer was paid for — with thirty pieces of silver.
Perhaps even more significantly, silver is used throughout God’s Word to indicate purity. In fact, even the Word of God itself is compared to silver in order to emphasize its complete lack of contamination.
The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.
Even though the sockets of the tabernacle were not highly visible, they served as a foundation for the entire structure. How illustrative of God’s absolute justice that when the priest, on behalf of the sinner, brought the evidence of sacrifice before God, he passed from impurity to purity. He passed from a foundation of judgment to a foundation of redemption.
And what of us as Christians? Our sin offering is not a temporary one, but for all, forever. The blood shed for us is not that of bulls or goats, but that of God’s only begotten son. How much more it can be said of us that we now stand in purity, on a foundation of redemption for all eternity.
Even though we know a day of judgment is coming, we are confident, because we have already been judged righteous in Christ. (You’ll want to read the following verses carefully — they differ from the King James Version, but more accurately reflect the text.)
1 John 4:17 (NIV)
In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.
Because of God’s love, He did what he could to cover Israel’s sin. But the tabernacle, and later the temple, was only a shadow of what was to come. Due to the finished work of Jesus Christ, God, in His love, can do even more.
1 John 4:18 (NIV)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Those who have believed on Jesus Christ have no reason to fear judgment, for God has declared us righteous. We have passed from guilt to redemption, from sin to holiness in His sight. How can we respond to such love, but to love Him in return, and to exhibit that same pure love to others?
1 John 4:19 (NIV)
We love because he first loved us.