As I read Exodus 28-31, I found myself struggling to find the modern-day application. All the regulations for the priests’ garments and the consecration of the priests that were necessary under the old covenant are no longer required in the life of a present-day believer.
Yet, as I read all the details, I was reminded of God’s character. Not only is he a God of intentional detail, but he is also holy. All the required ceremonies, sacrifices, and garments reminded me how unworthy I am to enter God’s presence. This is emphasized in the bells found on the garment of the priest which would alert those outside the tabernacle if the priest died in God’s presence due to uncleanness.
Exodus 30:20 speaks of the bronze basin saying,
“When they go into the tent of meeting, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die” (English Standard Version).
Wow. So often I forgot just how filthy and unworthy my sin makes me. In light of the weight of my sin compared to the holiness of God, I was challenged to reflect on the beautiful gift of Jesus’s sacrifice that allowed me to become the temple of God. I do not need to go through a priest or ritual cleansing, rather I have Jesus as my high priest. Through Christ’s sacrifice, I became the temple of God and I have direct access to God. As I read through Exodus, I found many chapters containing instructions on every detail of the temple. So how amazing is it that through Jesus we have become the temple?
After having my eyes opened to the holiness of God through Exodus, Philippians 2:12 stood out to me so powerfully,
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling,” (English Standard Version).
Paul tells the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. I can only imagine that the Old Testament prophets enter the Holy of Holy, where God’s presence dwelt, with fear and trembling. Each step the ringing of the bells on their garments was a reminder of the possibility that if they enter God’s presence unclean they would die. If this fear Paul called the Philippian to was rooted only in their knowledge of God’s holiness, that fear would be of death or destruction; however, wholesome fear of God is rooted in both a knowledge of his holiness and his grace, mercy, and love made available through Jesus. I once heard the fear of the Lord described this way. Suppose you met a famous celebrity that you have been a fan of for your whole lifetime. You would not be scared of them hurting you, but you would be worried about embarrassing yourself in front of them or messing up. In a similar way but much greater way, we must live out our salvation with a fear of displeasing God.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross to save me from my unholiness and allow me to enter your presence blamelessly. I am sorry that I can so quickly forget the seriousness of my sin and the magnitude of your holiness. Would you fill me with a greater fear of you that motivates me to live in a way that pleases you. Thank you for your grace that you generously pour out over my sin daily.