Living in God’s Presence – Exodus

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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
October 7, 2007

Living in God’s Presence
Exodus 21-31; 35-40


God brought the sons of Israel out of Egypt with a strong and mighty hand. Through His many miracles the Lord had made a mockery of the Egyptian pantheon of gods. The Lord demonstrated to the Hebrews and Egyptians alike that He alone is God. (See: God vs Egypt) The Lord had also provided for His people through various miracles at each point of their need. He rescued them from Pharaoh’s army by having them cross the Red Sea on dry ground and then drowning all the Egyptians where they had just crossed. When they found the water bitter and undrinkable, the Lord sweetened it. When they ran out of food, he gave them quail and manna. When they ran out of water again He brought water out of the rock. When attacked by Amalek He gave them the victory by Moses keeping his hands held high. The Lord did all these good things even when the people were grumbling and complaining for the Lord is also patient and longsuffering. (See: God’s Provision)

The Importance of the Law – Exodus 19-24

But Israel did have a new problem. How do you live in the presence of a Holy God? Just after they had crossed the Red Sea, the Lord had told them that if they would give earnest heed to His voice, and do what was right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statues, they He would not put on them any of the diseases He had put upon the Egyptians, for the Lord would be their healer (Exodus 15:26). The promise of healing was a blessing, but could they keep the Lord’ s statutes? Last week we saw how difficult that would be when the Lord gave them the ten foundational precepts upon which all the other commandments would rest.

The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-21

Recall that the sons of Israel had made it all the way down to Mount Sinai where Moses made a series of trips up and down the mountain to talk with the Lord and then tell the people God’s instructions. They carefully prepared themselves and took heed to God’s warning not to set foot on the mountain lest they die. Then the third day came when the Lord descended upon the mountain in fire so that there was smoke and lightning and thunder and the mountain quaked. Then the Lord spoke directly to the people telling them they were to have no other gods before Him, they were not to make an idol or the likeness of anything to worship or serve them. They were not to take the name of the Lord in vain. They were to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. They were to honor their father and mother so that their days would be prolonged. In addition they were not to murder, commit adultery, steal, bear false witness or covet. (See: God’s Commandments)

Those are God’s basic standards, but no one except Jesus Christ has ever been able to keep them. Since all of them except the command to keep the Sabbath are repeated in the New Testament, they still apply in the dispensation of Grace. As Paul said in Galatians 3:24, the Law was a tutor to bring us to Christ. The Law crushes us with guilt and condemnation so that we will cry out for mercy. We then come to God impoverished in spirit with our pride stripped away (Matthew 5:3f) so that we can find His grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ. The Law did the same thing in the Old Testament for it destroyed any hope of being able to come before God in self-righteousness. The Law proved their guilt so that they would have to seek God’s mercy and approach Him according to His directions. It is the Lord that sets up the standards and conditions by which you can approach Him. Any one that seeks to come to God according to their own plan will find themselves cast out (See Matthew 22:1-14). You either come before the Lord in humility according to His grace to receive His mercy, or you come under the Law to receive condemnation. That is true in both the Old and New Testament.

The Israel was going to have the Lord living among them. They needed the Lord’s instructions on how this was going to work so that they would not be destroyed by His holy presence. How could this work out in daily living? How would they be able to approach Him and have their sins forgiven?

That the people understood the seriousness of having God among them is seen in their reaction to receiving the Ten Commandments directly from the Lord. Verse 18 says they “trembled and stood at a distance” and verse 19 explains that they feared it would cause them to die. They asked Moses to speak to God and then tell them what God said. Moses responded that God was testing them so that the fear of God would remain in them so that they would not sin.

Additional Commandments

While the people remained at a distance Moses approached the thick cloud and received additional specific commandments which are explained Exodus 21-23. These commandments not only reiterate specific aspects of the Ten Commandments and give the punishment for violation of them, but they also cover a wide range of specific laws that explain how they were to carry out the principles of the Ten Commandments in daily life. Topics include the design of the altars on which they would make their sacrifices to the Lord (20:23-26); issues concerning slavery (21:1-11); punishments for murder, manslaughter and kidnaping (21:12-16); laws concerning personal injury whether premeditated, accidental or that happen because of negligence (21:12-36). There were specific laws given concerning theft, burglary, stewardship and loans (22:1-15) as well as seduction of virgins (22:16-17), sorcery (22:18), sexual perversion (22:19), false worship (22:20-21), affliction of widows and orphans (22:22-24), money lending & pledges (22:25-27), blasphemy (22:28), offerings (22:29-30), and scavenging (22:31). In Exodus 23 there are commands about false witnesses and partiality (23:1-3), kindness to animals and neighbors (23:4-5), perversion of justice (23:6-8), oppressing others (23:9), specifics about keeping the Sabbath (23:10-13), keeping the three national feasts (Unleavened Bread, Harvest and Ingathering) (23:14-17), offerings (23:18-19), obedience to the angel of God when conquering the land (23:20-23) and the Lord’s intervention in it (23:27-33), and false worship (23:24-26, 32).

The People’s Response – Exodus 24

When Moses recounted all these laws to the people they responded with one voice, and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” (24:3). Moses wrote down all laws of the Lord, and the next morning after they had offered up sacrifices in worship of the Lord, Moses read the laws of God again to the people. They again responded, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (24:4-7). Moses then took some of the blood from the sacrifices and sprinkled it on the people telling them, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words” (24:8). Everyone understood the seriousness of what they had committed themselves to do.

Exodus 24:9 says that “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they beheld God, and they ate and drank.” They were able to worship God in His very presence and they were not destroyed.

The rest of Exodus 24 explains that after this the Lord called Moses up the mountain again where he would receive from the Lord stone tablets with the law and the commandments written upon them. He would also receive additional instructions concerning the construction of the Tabernacle and how the priests and people were to approach God to worship Him. Joshua went part way up Mount Sinai with Moses, but the Elders along with Aaron and Hur remained with the people to govern them. Moses would remain on the mountain for forty days and nights. “To the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top” (24:17).

The Tabernacle – Exodus 25-31

While Moses is on the mountain the Lord gives him very detailed instructions concerning the construction of the Tabernacle, preparation of the priests and the manner in which they were to approach Him to worship. This is all recorded in Exodus 25-31. Exodus 35-40 then record the construction of the Tabernacle and the preparation of the priests concluding with its erection and the glory of the Lord filling it. Now rest assured that I am not going to go over everything contained in these 13 chapters for it would take me the rest of our time and then some to just read them to you much less explain anything about them. However, I do want to point out some of the detail contained in these chapters so that you will understand the seriousness of approaching God properly.

We live in a time and place where the vast majority of people have a very casual attitude about God even among those that say that they are Christians. Many of them live in such a way that the only logical conclusion by how they live is that they are practical atheists despite their claim. Why? Because their continued sinful actions and attitudes could only be carried by those that do not believe that God will hold them accountable for them. They live their daily lives as if there was no God. Then there are the many more that will go to church when it is convenient and may even try to be involved in some sort of ministry, but to them God is a doting grandfather that only indulges and never corrects those He loves. Yet the Scriptures says that God is a loving father that disciplines and even scourges those whom He loves and that those without discipline are illegitimate (Hebrews 12:5-8; Job 5:17; Proverbs 3:11-12; Revelation 3:19). Then there are those that are active in worship and ministry but they have a casual approach to God because they think He is their good buddy. Their concern in a worship service is that they are comfortable and enjoy it. Their ministries revolving around doing what they enjoy with very little actual sacrifice required. All of this is built upon a premise that God doesn’t really care how you come to Him as long as you come to Him.

Certainly God’s love is extended to us while we were yet sinners, as Romans 5:8 declares. Jesus invites us to come to Him while we are weary and heavy laden and He would give us rest (Matthew 11:28). Do these truths mean that we can come to God anyway we might want? Will God accept us regardless of our attitude and approach to Him? The answer to those questions is NO!

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5) which is why the first characteristic of those who are part of Christ’s kingdom is being poor in spirit (Matthew 5:3). Psalm 66:18 tells us that God does not even listen to the prayers of those who hide iniquity in their heart. Proverbs 21:27 tells us that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to God. This was one of the reasons for God’s judgement on Judah (Isaiah 1:13f). The details given here in Exodus make it very clear that God is concerned about how we approach Him.

How detailed is Exodus? For the rest of this morning I will simply summarize each major item that was part of the Tabernacle along with the preparations of the priests and the sacrifices.

The Offerings for the Sanctuary (Exodus 25:1-9) are the first subject discussed. God lists out the specific items including gold, silver, bronze, particular colors of cloth made out or particular materials, oil, spices and specific decorative stones that needed to be brought as contributions so that the Tabernacle could be built. The specific purpose of it was to be a “sanctuary for me, that I may dwell among them” (vs. 9). They were to build it according to the pattern God gave to Moses. When the people were told about this they did freely contribute all the materials needed and so much so that Moses finally had to end it because they had so much (Exodus 25:20-29; 36:1-7). The total amount given was 29 talents, 730 shekels (about 2,193 lbs) of gold; 100 talents, 1,775 shekels (about 7,544 lbs) of silver; 70 talents, 2,400 shekels (about 5,310 lbs) of bronze as well as all the other materials needed (Exodus 38:21-31).

The Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9) is the first item described. It was to be made out of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. Its size was to be 2.5 X 1.5 X 1.5 cubits (about 3′ 9″ X 2′ 3″ X 2′ 3″‘). It was to have four feet with rings attached through which poles would be mounted for carrying the ark. There would be a mercy seat that would cover its top and it would be decorated with a hammered gold cherubim on either end with wings spread upward and facing each other. Verse 22 tells us that God would meet to speak with Moses from above the mercy seat and above the two cherubim.

The Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23-30; 37:10-16) was for the bread of Presence which was to be before the Lord at all times. It was also made out of acacia wood and overlaid with gold with a gold rim around the top. Its size was to be 2 X 1 X 1.5 cubits (about 3′ X 1′ 6″ X 2′ 3″). It also had four feet with gold rings and poles attached for carrying it. It was to have special pans, jars and bowls made out of gold for the libation offerings.

The Golden Lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24) was for shedding light in the holy place where the Ark of the Covenant and the Table of Showbread would be placed. It was also to be made out of one piece of hammered gold with three branches extending out from either side. Each branch would have three cups shaped like an almond blossom. There would also be almond flower shaped cup at each of pairs of branches. There would also be snuffers and trays with all of it being made out of a talent (about 75 lbs) of pure gold. Oil for the lamps was to be made out of beaten olives (Exodus 27:20-21).

Curtains of Fine Twisted Linen (Exodus 26:1-6; 36:8-13) that were colored blue, purple and scarlet were made to form the walls of the tabernacle. They were decorated with cherubim. Each curtain was 28 cubits by 4 cubits (~42′ X 6′). There was a total of 10 of them with 5 joined together on each side. Each one was made with 50 loops on the edge and 50 clasps of gold to join them together.

Acacia Boards and bars (Exodus 26:15-30; 36:20-34) were made to hold up the curtains. Each one was 10 cubits long and 1 ½ cubits wide (15′ X 2′ 3″) and covered in gold. Each board was held in place by two silver sockets and two tenons. There would be twenty of these on both the north and south sides with six boards plus two corner boards for the west end and eight boards for the east end. Gold covered acacia wood bars would complete the framing over which the curtains would be hung.

Curtains of Goats Hair (Exodus 26:7-14; 36:14-19) were made for use as a tent over the tabernacle. They were to be eleven of them with each one 30 cubits by 4 cubits (45′ X 6′) and each having 50 loops on the outer edges and 50 bronze clasps to join the tent together. Five of the curtains were joined together and then the other six with the sixth curtain to be used to lap over the back of the tabernacle. A covering for the tent would be made out of rams skins dyed red with porpoise skins above them.

A Veil of Fine Twisted Linen (Exodus 26:31-37; 36:35-38) colored blue, purple and scarlet was made to hang as a partition between the holy place and the holy of holies where the mercy seat and the ark of the covenant were kept. The veil was decorated with cherubim and hung by gold hooks on four pillars of gold covered acacia wood set in silver sockets. There was also a screen of the same material used as the doorway for the tent. It was hung by gold hooks on five gold covered acacia wood pillars set in bronze sockets.

The Altar of Burnt Offerings (Exodus 27:1-8; 38:1-7) was made out of acacia wood and covered in bronze. It was 5 cubits X 5 cubits X 3 cubits (~ 7′ 6″ X 7′ 6″ X 4′ 6″). At each corner was a horn overlayed with bronze and bronze grating between. Bronze pails, shovels, basins, forks and firepans were also made. It was to be carried by means of bronze rings at each corner with removable poles.

The Incense Altar (Exodus 30:1-10; 37:25-28) was also made out of acacia wood and covered in gold. It was 1 cubit by 1 cubit by 2 cubits high (1′ 6″ X 1′ 6″ X 3′). It also would have horns in each corner with gold rings through which removable gold covered acacia poles could be inserted for carrying it. The incense used on it had to be according to a very exact formula using spices, stacte, onycha, galbanum and frankincense. This incense could not by copied and used for any other purpose (Exodus 30:34-38; 37:29). There was also a special anointing oil made from 500 shekels (~12 ½ lbs) each of flowing myrrh and cassia, 250 shekels (~6 ¼ lbs) each of fragrant cinnamon and fragrant cane along with a hin (~ 1 gallon) of olive oil. This would be used for anointing everything that would be used in the worship of God in the Tabernacle including the priests. It also was not to be copied or used for any other purpose (Exodus 30:22-33; 37:29).

A Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:17-21; 38:8) was made for use in the ceremonial washings. It would sit between the tent of meeting and the altar.

A Court Surrounding the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:9-19) was made of fine twisted linen 100 cubits long (~150 ft) on either side, 50 cubits (~75′ ) in the back and front with the front being divided so that there was a 20 cubit (~30′) screened gate. The linen was hung by silver hooks and bands from pillars that were set in bronze sockets every 5 cubits (~7′ 6″).

The Garments for the Priest (Exodus 28:1-43; 39:1-31) was extremely precise. A whole chapter is devoted to it. The were to be made from finely woven blue, purple & scarlet materials that would have gold thread woven into them. There was an ephod held in place from the shoulders by onyx stones and a breastplate that had four rows of stones in gold settings placed in three columns. This included in order from first row down: ruby, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper with each stone having the name of one of the twelve tribes engraved on it. Gold cords held the breastplate in place. The hem of the robe was decorated with blue, purple and scarlet pomegranates with gold bells hanging between them. There would also be a turban which would have attached to the front of it by a blue cord a gold plate engraved with the words “Holy to the Lord.” Aaron’s sons would have similar tunics with sashes. These garments were to be worn whenever they entered the Tent of Meeting or approached the altar. If they did not, they would incur their guilt and die.

The Consecration of the Priests (Exodus 29; Leviticus 8, 9) was also described in detail including how they were to be dressed and the sacrifices that were to be made. Detail was given about sacrifices including grain offerings and what and how many of each animal was to be sacrificed, what was to be done with its blood and various body parts including what could be eaten by the priests.

Final Instructions – Exodus 31; 35:10-19

God also called the specific craftsman including Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah and Oholiab, son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan, that would fashion all these various things (Exodus 31:1-11; 35:10-19).

God reminded Moses to warn the people about keeping the Sabbath as a sign of the covenant between them and the Lord (Exodus 31:12-17; 35:1-3). After God finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of testimony which were written in stone by the finger of God, and Moses head back down the mountain.


All the precise detail given in these chapters proves that God is concerned about how people come before Him to worship. The current casual approach that so many people have toward God is wrong – and dangerous as we will see in the coming weeks. No, God has not given the New Testament church lots of details about the ceremonies of worshiping Him, but He has given some. He has also given specifics about the attitude of those who come before Him.

God has given us two ordinances, religious ceremonies, that are to be part of Christian worship. They are baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Communion. And while He has not given us detail about the size, shape and decorations of a baptismal or even where a baptism is to be done, He has commanded that it is done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19), and the meaning of the word “baptize” itself explains the mode of it – to immerse. The meaning and purpose of Communion has been clearly stated as to show forth His death until He comes with each of the elements, the bread and the cup, to be partaken of in “remembrance of Me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-34). It is a serious ritual and participation in it is to be done thoughtfully with self examination. Other aspects of it are not detailed including whether to us a single cup or multiple cups, the size, shape and decorations of the cup, whether the juice used is fermented or not, the size, shape or content of the bread. There is freedom in all these areas to do what seems best to you before the Lord. However, since it was instituted at a Passover meal using matzah crackers and grape juice are good choices.

God has not given to Christians any plans for any kind of particular facility much less size, shape and decorations of buildings. He has not told us what kinds of clothes we must wear, though a Christian should always be modest and humble reflecting their inner godly qualities (1 Peter 3:3-4). He has not told us when or where to meet, just that we should not neglect assembling together (Hebrews 13:24,25) and that when we are together we are to practice all the one another commands as part of the body of Christ so that we grow in the knowledge of our Lord and mature in practicing righteousness (Ephesians 4:11-16, etc.). We can come before God with confidence because of Christ, but we are to come before Him with humility (James 4:6) and give Him the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:5). We offer to God our service with reverence and awe for He is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28,29). All of this and many more verse mean that we are to come to God according to His terms in order to worship and please Him, and not on our own terms according to our own comfort and desires, for that ultimately is the worship of ourselves and not God. We would then be practicing a religion and not worshiping God because of a restored relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

Does God care how you approach Him? Yes. Do you care about coming before Him the way He wants? How diligent you are to find out what God wants and then do it will answer that question. Is your worship about God, or about you?

Sermon Notes – October 7, 2007

Living in God’s Presence- Exodus 21-31; 35-40


The Importance of the Law – Exodus 19-24

If the Israelites would obey God,  He would be their ____________ and not put on them the diseases he put on the Egyptians (Exodus 15:26)

The Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-21

These are the ___________________ upon which all the specific laws would build.

The Law is a ________________ to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24

In order to come to God you must come ___________________ (Matthew 5:3; 1 Peter 5:5)

Additional Commandments

Moses was in ______________ when God gave him the specific commandments of Exodus 21-23

The People’s Response – Exodus 24

The people said they would _______________ all the commands God had spoken.

The Tabernacle – Exodus 25-31

Moses was located _______________________ when God gave him the details about the Tabernacle

Many people who say the are Christians actually live as practical _____________

God ____________ care how you come to Him

The Offerings for the Sanctuary (Exodus 25:1-9)

The people gave abundantly everything needed including _________ lbs of Gold & 7,544 lbs of silver

The Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9)

It’s size was _________ X _________ X ___________ and it was covered with _________

Two gold ______________ were on either end of the mercy seat.

The Table of Showbread (Exodus 25:23-30; 37:10-16)

It was made out of ___________ wood and covered with gold

The Golden Lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24)

It had _________ branches on either side of the main stem.

It was decorated with ___________ blossoms for the cups

Curtains of Fine Twisted Linen (Exodus 26:1-6; 36:8-13)

There were ________ curtains, each of them about 42 ft. long by 6 ft. high

Acacia Boards and bars (Exodus 26:15-30; 36:20-34)

There was a total of 70 of the boards plus two corner board. Each was covered with ________

Curtains of Goats Hair (Exodus 26:7-14; 36:14-19)

These were used to _________ the Tabernacle

A Veil of Fine Twisted Linen (Exodus 26:31-37; 36:35-38)

It was decorated with ____________ and used to separate the holy place from the holy of holies.

The Altar of Burnt Offerings (Exodus 27:1-8; 38:1-7)

This was __________ X ___________ X ___________ and made out of bronze

The Incense Altar (Exodus 30:1-10; 37:25-28)

The incense used on these had an exact formula that ___________ be used for other purposes.

A Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:17-21; 38:8)

This was placed between the __________ and the tent of meeting

A Court Surrounding the Tabernacle (Exodus 27:9-19)

The curtains used for this were hung by ________________ from pillars set every 5 cubits

Preparation of the Priests

The Garments for the Priest (Exodus 28:1-43; 39:1-31)

The breastplate include _________ stones with the name of _______________ engraved on them.

The Consecration of the Priests (Exodus 29; Leviticus 8, 9)

This included specific _____________ and grain offerings.

Final Instructions – Exodus 31; 35:10-19

The law was written by _____________ on two tablets of stone


God is ______________ about how Christians come to worship Him


Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Find some pictures of the Tabernacle and identify everything in it. Talk with your parents about the proper way to worship God.


Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Where were Moses & the sons of Israel when God gave the Ten Commandments? Are the Ten Commandments still meaningful today? If so, how? If not, why not? Read through the commandments given in Exodus 21-23. What can we learn from them that can be applied to our own lives? What was the response of the people upon hearing these commandments? Where was Moses when God gave him the instructions concerning the Tabernacle? Where was Moses supposed to get the supplies for constructing the Tabernacle? How large was the Ark of the Covenant? What was its purpose? What was its relationship to the Mercy Seat? What was the Table of Showbread used for? What was the purpose of the Golden Lampstand and how much gold was used to make it? How were the curtains held together? What held the Boards for the Tent of Meeting upright? What were the curtains of goat hair for? What was used to cover them? Why was their a veil between the holy place and the holy of holies? What was in each place? How big was the Altar of Burnt Offerings? What was the incense made out of? What was the purpose of the bronze laver? How big was the court surrounding the Tabernacle? What was set into the breastplate? Describe. What was attached to the turban? When were the priestly garments to be worn? How were the priests consecrated for their duties? How were the craftsman found who could design and make all these things? What did Moses bring down from the mountain with him. Who made it? Does God care about how people come to worship Him? Why or why not? What is your attitude when you come before God? What New Testament principles guide us in coming before God properly?

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