Apr 25-May 1 (Exodus 24, 31-34) Come Follow Me Insights with Taylor and Tyler – powered by Happy Scribe
And I’m Tyler.
This is Book of Mormon Central’s Come Follow Me Insights.
Today, Exodus, chapter 24 and 31-34.
So as we begin this chapter, let’s set the stage. We’re at the base of Mount Sinai, and there’s a lot that’s going to happen in this particular set of chapters. You’re going to get Moses going up and down on the Mount, getting instructions, taking them to the people. You’re going to get extensive instructions regarding the Tabernacle. That’s construction. You’re going to be getting the law given to him on those tablets. He’s going to come down. We’re getting the golden calf experience. This is actually the place where we get that statement that we still use to this day, which was coined by Moses back on that day when he came down off the mountain and saw them worshipping the golden calf. And he said, Holy cow. And we still use that phrase to this day. And that is not gospel truth. So don’t repeat that in chapter 24, where we begin, you’ll notice that here we are and you’ve got the whole group of Israel there. And God gives him a really strange set of instructions here regarding the sacrifice. So starts in verse six, Moses took half of the blood of this oxen that was sacrificed unto the Lord.
He takes half of the blood, puts it in basins, and half he sprinkled on the altar. So he’s sprinkling the blood of this oxen on the altar, and then he’s taking the other half, and he has the congregation of Israel scattered in front of him, and he’s sprinkling the other half on the congregation. Now, to us in the latter days, in the 21st century, listening to that or reading this, it seems really bizarre and quite frankly, repulsive. We would be saying, I don’t want to be part of that congregation. We have to understand that they’re looking at this from a completely different perspective than we are. And keep in mind, they see that when something goes wrong or when you sin that you actually defile the land. And if I’ve done something really wrong and I even touch somebody, I’ve now defiled you by touching you or being with you. And they see blood of a sacrifice in this cleansing role, which is so ironic because I don’t know very many elements that stain clothing or stain anything quicker than blood. And yet from their perspective, they see it as a cleansing agent. I think they understood the atonement symbolism of Jesus Christ, even they may not have been calling it that, but the atoning blood of Christ, being the most powerful cleansing agent known to us, is now symbolized with Moses sprinkling the altar and sprinkling the people.
It’s actually, in their mind, cleansing them. They’re not shying away from the blood. It’s not dirty to them. It’s the opposite. It’s making them clean, even though they’re splattered with it from their mindset. If we read it through the lenses that they would have understood it. This becomes a beautiful symbolic chapter of atoning redemption for them rather than just being bizarre and weird.
If you look back at the Noah’s story after the flood and the Ark rests at Mount Ararat, God gives no instructions about making sacrifices. And he talks about how the blood represents life. And so, as Tyler was explaining, when you’re sprinkled with the blood, it’s a symbol that it’s life, it’s vivifying, it’s bringing this life force. So if we think about when we partake of the Sacrament, it’s all about getting the life through Jesus Christ, that we’re partaking of his body and his blood. Symbolically, there’s also this interesting connection with they’ve sacrificed a Bull. So if you actually consider in the ancient world, what’s the most powerful thing any human could ever encounter outside of the weather, right, so Thunder and lightning, waves, storms, that’s all weather. But in terms of living things, the most powerful thing these people would have ever encountered would have been a bowl. If you’ve ever been around a bowl, these things are massive monsters, beasts that you do not want to make angry or be in the way when they actually want to get somewhere. So what’s happening here? And you see this throughout the scriptures, when they sacrifice Bulls or maybe later, when they create the golden calf in their culture, they’re trying to symbolize the most powerful thing that they have encountered to represent the most powerful thing that exists in the universe.
Now, we live in a day and age where we have steam engines and coal powered and nuclear powered plants, and we have electricity and combustion engines. We have so much power out there that it’s hard for us to conceptualize that an animal would really capture people’s attention to represent the power of God. And so we see these symbols going on of the most powerful living thing that these people would have ever encountered was a Bull. Therefore, its life force is probably the best representation we can find to represent what God does for us by bringing us life. So if you guys remember, in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin is transitioning the kingship to his son. King Mosaic brings everybody together, and he teaches them this message delivered to him by an angel, the gospel of Jesus Christ, about who Jesus is and how people should turn to Jesus Christ. Last week, we talked about the covenantal pattern that’s happening at Mount Sinai. And this pattern is repeated in other places throughout Scripture, the Book of Joshua, it shows up in the doctrine. Covenants shows up also right here in the King Benjamin speech. Now, notice what happens in chapter four mosaiah that the people, after they hear this powerful message from God’s Prophet, they fall down to the Earth.
And in verse two, they viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the Earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice saying, oh, have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ, that we may receive forgiveness of our sins and our hearts may be purified. For we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and Earth and all things who shall come down among the children of men. So the blood was often the signal or sign that people had entered into a Covenant and they had been cleansed by the Covenant. We have it right here with Moses. You can imagine these people, like the people in time of King Benjamin saying, Please apply the atoning blood. So sprinkle the blood. Today when we go to Sacrament, we don’t say this, but symbolically, we’re saying to the priest representing God, please apply the atoning blood because we see ourselves in our fallen state that we want to be purified by the vivifying enlivening power of the blood of Jesus Christ. So the symbol of blood and the power of Jesus Christ to cleanse, to heal, to bring life shows up all over scripture.
And it’s still with us today in this glorious ritual, this glorious ordinance we call the Sacrament, where the toning blood of Jesus Christ is applied weekly to us and we are invited back into the Covenant, sealed as God’s people.
Taylor, it’s a beautiful insight. Thank you for taking something that seems really weird, pulling it forward symbolically to us and realizing when we’re sitting in Sacramento, it may not be literally sprinkled with blood, but we’re symbolically taking the blood of Christ into us. We’re letting it cleanse the inner vessel and his body. It’s a beautiful symbol. If we let it distill on our soul, it tastes good when we put it in that context. Now you jump down to verse nine, and the next part of this chapter tells us about Moses and Aaron and Nada and Aba, who and 70 of the elders of Israel assembling. And they saw God, the God of Israel, and there was under his feet, as it were, a paved work of a Sapphire stone, and as it were, the body of heaven in his clearness. So all these people see him in this context, and you’re going to see that in a couple of other places. In this lesson, God is going to be manifest. And then you get another verse that says nobody can ever see God. And it seems like a real contradiction. But hold that thought. We’ll come to that when we get to chapter 33.
In the meantime, the Lord tells Moses to get up even higher into the mountain. And verse 16 says, in the glory of the Lord abode upon Mount Sinai and the cloud covered at six days on the 7th day, he called into Moses out in the midst of the cloud. And if you jump down to verse 18, it says, Moses went into the midst of the cloud and got him up into the Mount. And Moses was in the Mount 40 days and 40 nights, very similar. Taylor mentioned this last week, this idea that Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness to be with God. Well, here is Moses doing that in Exodus 24, verse 18. And in Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus, he tells you from the very first verse of his book that Jesus is the new Moses, the new prophetic, leader of the people, the son of David, the descendants of Abraham. This Messiah figure, well, as the Messiah figure, Matthew, is purposefully going to be tying in all kinds of Mosaic traditions into his telling of the story of Christ’s life and Ministry.
Yeah. Showing that Jesus is the fulfillment, that Moses is a type of Jesus. And we see that full fulfillment when Jesus arrives. So just some fun connections. So for those of us who felt like man, the Bible might be hard to get through at times. One way to help is to say, how do I see Jesus in these passages? Some are easier than others. This is one that’s a little bit easier.
Yeah. Now, in Chapter 25 through 30, you’ll notice it’s not part of the chapters that are in the Come Follow Me manual for this week. Quite frankly, it could be very laborious because what it’s doing is it’s laying out the construction and the description of them building the Tabernacle to the Lord.
And so what you’re doing is you’re giving us a bird’s eye view of the ancient Tabernacle.
Looking down at the Tabernacle from a bird’s eye view. So you have the east gate. So this is east, this is west, this is north, this is south. And it was very important to them that they set this Tabernacle up with an eastward orientation, the rising of the sun coming. That is the only gate. There’s no side entrance, there’s no back door. And the presence of God emanates from the Holy of Holies here where the Ark of the Covenant is going to be. And so what’s happening is in Chapter 25, you get this introduction of what the Tabernacle should look like and how it should be built and the materials that are needed. So look at verse eight in Chapter 25. It says, and let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Now, at first reading, you might think to yourself, that’s odd. Why does God need them to build a sanctuary so he can come and dwell among them? He’s God. Why doesn’t he just have a perfect sanctuary sent down from heaven for them? Or better yet, not need a sanctuary? He’s God, just come and dwell out in the tent with the people.
Isn’t that Zion, where God dwells with them, dwells with them.
So what is it about a Tabernacle or what is it about a temple today? That is the house of the Lord. Why does he need that? It’s his words here that he wants them to build a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. It’s almost as if he’s saying, I need you to set aside sacred space, space that is consecrated to your direct connection with me. It’s different than all of the other spaces that you have and that you operate in. I need a place set apart, set aside for you to come and have that connection with me. Now, I don’t know all the reasons for this, but look at verse nine. According to all that I show thee after the pattern of the Tabernacle and the pattern of all of the instruments thereof. Even so, you shall make it. So he didn’t just say, I need you to make something where I can come and dwell among you. He said, I’m going to show you a pattern of what this should look like and what all of the instruments inside of the Tabernacle should look like. And you need to follow the pattern.
So Hebrew word has interesting meanings. It’s a pattern, a model. Resemblance, figure, form, likeness, a similitude. We actually get this when God creates humans, he’s using himself as a pattern to make us. But you also had some insights about patterns.
Yeah. For any of you who have done any sewing or any construction in sewing, you have literally patterns. You cut out the cloth and you follow those instructions and you sew in a specific order in a sequence in order to create the final look in any kind of clothing. Same thing with blueprints for a building. It’s a pattern. It’s not the real thing, but it’s a symbol of the real thing. I wonder if God giving them all the instructions in chapters 25 through 30, he’s laying out the blueprints, so to speak, the pattern. But I wonder if he’s going to all of this effort, not just so they can have a Tabernacle and later on in Jerusalem, a temple. But I wonder if he’s showing us that this then becomes a pattern or a blueprint for our Covenant path progression back into the presence of God from this wilderness world life that we live in, that we can use the temple as the pattern or the ancient Tabernacle in this context, as this pattern in the Gospel of Jesus Christ to model our life, to build our life. So it’s not just Willy nilly constructed by us doing our best thinking on a given day, but rather relying on God’s instruction.
And so he begins with verse ten, and thou shalt make an Ark. So there’s the Ark of the Covenant. Then you go over to verse 31. You’re going to make a veil that’s going to separate the Holy of Holies from the Holy place.
And the Ark goes right in here. And inside the arc are the tablets where the instructions for the Covenant, what we call the Ten Commandments, are laid and anciently. The idea was that this is the footstool or maybe the seat of judgment or the mercy seat where God would sit, and so he would sit on that arc. And so it’s like the sacred place where he comes to dwell. It’s interesting you mentioned God can be everywhere, but he chooses to have a physical place where he can come. And it’s like he understands these people are living in Enos. He’s like, I’m going to come live in a tent with you. Think about today. We have stakes. When they built this tent, this Tabernacle, there were stakes all around that provided form and function and stability. And inside those stakes, what do we expect to have? But we want to find the presence of God in our stakes, hopefully because we are keeping or living the covenantal instructions that he has given us, and thereby we get his presence in our lives.
So even though there’s all these little instructions about the sapphires and the wood and the colors and the way to sew them together and how to make all of the outer curtains and the inner curtains.
It’S all about getting God into our lives. So don’t get too stuck in the little details. It’s all about how am I letting God into my life? How am I getting that arc of the Covenant symbolically, the tablets of Covenant’s instructions written in my life and living them? It’s interesting. We spend all this time studying the scriptures, studying the gospel, beautiful things to do. But ultimately it’s so that we live the gospel. That’s the most important thing. And we’ll see in all these stories God wants to live among his people. And they even seem to forget that having God’s presence isn’t enough for them to actually live as they should. We have to choose to let these experiences help us become like God. That’s really what this is all driving towards, not just to know how the Tabernacle is designed or how long it existed, what it’s made out of, but actually to be different, to be like God.
And you’ll notice as you look at any of the symbols inside of the Tabernacle motif, whether it be the altar of sacrifice or the labor or the candelabra, the altar of incense or the table of showbread or the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies or the Tabernacle itself, all things point to Christ. All things point to the redemption that comes through the sacrifice and the infinite atonement of Jesus Christ opening the gate and the way to bring all of us to bring the world into the house of Israel and to bring the house of Israel into the presence of God. It all centers on Christ. So if we read these chapters, or if we go to the temple today and we miss the Lord Jesus Christ, then we missed the point of the whole building and the whole ordinance. It’s to bring us to Christ, who then in turn brings us into the presence of God the Father. And so you see this pattern that carries out, by the way, if he’s going to spend this much time, this much energy and this much effort on building a sacred Tabernacle in the wilderness, how much effort does he go or how much effort, rather, does he put into building you as a daughter or a son of God?
I think there’s a pattern there as well. He’s very careful and he’s very meticulous about providing you with every possible means to connect with and stay connected with God. Now, if you turn to chapter 28, you’ll notice it introduces Aaron with his sons. So Aaron, remember, is Moses brother, happens to be his older brother by three years, roughly. And Aaron is called as the first high priest. And as the high priest, he’s going to have some pretty specific clothing items prepared for him. Specifically, you look at verse two, thou shalt make Holy garments for errand thy brother, for glory and for beauty. And then you find out that as part of these clothing items that Erin is going to wear as the high priest, he’s going to have a cap on his head with something across the forehead that’s written over here in verse 36, a plate of pure gold and Graven on that pure gold is going to be a Signet Holiness to the Lord. Now, many of you are aware of the fact that we have on all of our temples on the outside, this beautiful inscription, Holiness to the Lord. Well, keep in mind that is on brick and mortar, but God isn’t in the business of exalting brick and mortar.
The brick and mortar is just a pattern for what he’s trying to do with you. He’s trying not just to get you to come into the temple, he’s trying to get the temple experience and the temple connectivity into you and to get the temple to go through you to the point where we could rightly have written on our countenance Holiness to the Lord in the ultimate sense. And so errand, here is a pattern, a placeholder for all of us that’s what God is trying to do to all of us is create the kind of a life where the Holy Ghost is able to constantly be our companion and constantly be with us. And look at verse four. It tells you that there’s going to be a breastplate, an Efod, a robe, a Broider coat, a miter and a girdle, and you’re going to make Holy garments. Do all of those things sound a little bit familiar? In a temple context, an endowment is simply a clothing ordinance you’re putting on sacred covering, sacred clothing, and that’s what’s happening here. It’s not physical armor, it’s a spiritual battle that we’re Waging and Paul later on is going to tell the Ephesians that they need to put on the whole armor of God.
And then he’s going to describe some of these very elements from verse four. It would be a fun exercise for you to look at verse four and compare it to the whole armor of God and match them all up and say, oh, well, the difference is back then it was only reserved for one man and his sons, the high priests Aaron and his sons, and only Moses and Aaron were allowed to go into the Holy of Holies. And after Moses leaves it’s only the high priest once a year. Well, now God has opened wide the gates to allow all who are willing to make a Covenant with him to come into the celestial room of the temple, having walked back into the presence of God symbolically through making and keeping those sacred covenants. It’s beautiful. So here we get the pattern, but let’s not leave the pattern in history. Let’s pattern our life and fashion our life after this and follow it back into the presence of God.
I forgot to mention that another word since you mentioned pattern again, a template. And our word temple comes from the word a template. So this is how the Tabernacle, which is a pattern for a temple or a template for our lives as we’ve seen here.
I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to go to the temple and not look literally at what’s going on, but to connect back with the Old Testament, the Book of Mormon, the doctrine of covenants, the New Testament, all these things that we see in scriptures which are a template for the Christ life and look for symbols of Christ everywhere in the temple, in all parts of the ordinances that are performed there. You’ll notice at the end of chapter 28 it tells you in verse 41, you’re going to take these garments and you shall put them upon Aaron, thy brother and his sons with him, and shall anoint them and consecrate them and sanctify them, that they may Minister unto me in the priest’s office. Keep in mind we’ve mentioned this before, but back in this day there’s only one of the 13 tribes, because remember, we took Joseph and replaced him with Ephraim and Manasseh. So now we have 13 tribes, but we always pull Levi out of that number. Not always, but usually he gets excluded from the number because his is a tribe that has the priesthood. None of the other tribes are able to perform any priestly functions.
They don’t have that authority. Now, we live in a day when it’s given to all people who are willing to make and keep these covenants a Kingdom of priests and priestesses. That’s exactly what’s happening. Then in chapter 29 it tells you in verse four that Aaron and his sons are going to be brought to the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation and there you’re going to wash them with water. You’ll notice when that passage occurs that Moses is supposed to bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the Tabernacle. Probably not the outer courtyard, probably here why? Because you have the labor with water. And on the backside of the labor, the tradition holds you’ve got a Horn, a Ram’s Horn that is filled with oil. So you first wash Aaron and his sons with water, verse five. And thou shalt take the garments and put upon errand the coat and the robe and the EFA and the efo and the breastplate and gird them with the curious girdle. And then verse seven, thou shalt take the anointing oil and pour it upon his head and anoint him. So you take the oil here.
Now you’ve anointed him. So he has been washed, he’s put on clothing of this priesthood office that he holds. And now you’ve anointed him. The word anoint in Hebrew is one of the most significant words we can cover. This whole Old Testament year. It’s Mashi’s. If you translate it into English, Mashiach becomes Messiah. Translated into Greek becomes Christ, or in English, Christ.
So it means the anointed one. Now, we know that there is one anointed that we all worship, that is Jesus, the anointed, Jesus the Messiah. But it’s interesting, when we go to the temple, we get to be anointed. Now, we’re not Christ, capital C or capital M, Messiah, but he wants us to be like him. And so we take that Holy anointing oil and take it upon ourselves. Now, we’ve taught this in other lessons, that olive oil particularly, is this amazing symbol of the atonement of Jesus Christ. It turns out when you actually press olive oil really, really hard in those presses, it actually oozes out of the pores of olives blood red. Eventually it coalesces into vats and as golden as you would typically see it. But initially it’s blood red. It literally looks like Blood’s pouring over rocks. So this amazing symbol, that oil is a form of covering ourselves symbolically in the atonement of Jesus Christ, his blood, which heals us physically and spiritually. And that’s kind of the reminder here is that when you are going into the presence of God, you need the liveliness and the power, the vivifying force of his blood to be with you, to be in his presence.
And by the way, isn’t it a remarkable thing that he offers to us in this context to not just come to the temple and maybe see other people experiencing these things we’re talking about from the Old Testament, but he invites everyone man, woman, black, white, bond, free. It doesn’t matter. All are alike unto God when you come into the temple and all are washed and clothed and anointed. And then once you’ve done that for yourself, what an amazing opportunity that the Lord gives us to say where he says, basically, I want you to become a little bit more like me. I want you to become a savior on Mount Zion. It doesn’t mean that we save these people on the other side of the veil. It means we work hand in hand with the Messiah, the one and only, ultimately infinitely anointed one as a little anointed one that Taylor has been talking about to help bring his Salvation to all of these people who are in desperate need of his Grace. I love the symbolism there. So just as another little teeny tidbit that’s kind of a fun nugget in this part of the story that is often skipped over is found in chapter 29, verse 20.
Notice it says, Then shalt thou kill the Ram and take of his blood and put upon the tip of the right ear of Errand, upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about? Do any of you find that odd that you kill this sacrifice and then take some of the blood, put a little bit on the tip of the ear, on the right thumb and the right big toe?
The idea here is that you’re symbolizing that the blood of the Lamb or God himself. The ear is to hear the word of God, the thumb is to do the things of God and the foot to walk in the paths of God. God wants us to hear his word, wants us to go out having been covenantly committed to Him, and then to walk in his path. So we got these symbols going on, even anciently.
Yeah. Now if you shift over to chapter 30, he gives more instructions about how the altar of incense is to be built. And then verse 18, how to build the labor, a brass, the wash Basin, that wash Basin. And then we get into chapter 31. So as we turn to chapter 31, I need to share a personal experience with you from many years ago. Before my current job, I used to work in seminaries and institutes, and I would work for part of my assignment with training people who wanted to become full time seminary teachers and the manager over pre service. At the time, his name was Mike Valena. So he came to visit some teachers with me on a particular day, and I’ll never forget he was so excited. He was giddy. He’s like Tyler. I’ve got to share this insight that he had gained in his personal reading that morning, which, by the way, this was an early class that we were visiting, and he lived about an hour and a half away. And so it gave me some indication of how much effort he had put into making time for the Lord. That all by itself was impressive to me.
But he was so excited to share this insight, and it was right here in existence. Chapter 31, he said. So he read verse two. See, I have called by name, Basala, the son of Yuri, the son of her of the tribe of Judah, and notice what God had done to him in verse three. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship. And he’s got the ability to devise cunning works and to cut stones and to carve timber and to work all manner of workmanship. And then Brother Valena went to verse six, and here he says, And I, behold, I have given with him a Holy AB, the Son of Hissamach. I’m probably pronouncing that name wrong. And notice God has made him wisehearted and put wisdom into him and commanded him to be able to work with cloth and the instruments inside of the Tabernacle. And Brother Valencia’s point, his excitement was, isn’t that amazing that God has instilled within these two individuals and others? But these are the two that are named Bazalia and a holiday. These special capacities, these gifts, these abilities to do a work that was set aside for that time in that place, and it wasn’t broadcast across all of the children of Israel.
It’s not as if every member was a craftsman of equal capacity. There were specific things needing to be done. And then his point was, as we go out and observe teachers today in seminary classrooms, we’re looking for the hand of God to see who he has appointed with special gifts, to be able to relate to youth and to be able to teach them the Scriptures in such a way that it will light a fire in them. And I thought, man, what a beautiful application of this principle in that setting. But now as we cover it here, it’s for us to wrestle with what is the mission or the missions? What are the gifts? What are the unique capacities that God has given me to be able to perform? And every one of you, every one of us have things that God specifically has appointed us to fulfill and Consequently has given us whatever gifts are necessary in order to fulfill them. So our invitation would be to turn heavenward, look at your patriarchal blessing, counsel with wise people around you, and finding your specific Bazalia or a holib package of gifts and Commission given from God.
I think it’s a beautiful principle as we get underway. So now as we transition away from the building of the Tabernacle and back, maybe to more focus on the building of the people, because you don’t work on people with saws and with needles and with thread, you work on them with Commandments and with ordinances. This chapter ends with shifting that focus now to people.
Yeah. So you’ve gotten all these instructions beginning back in Exodus 19 of all these covenantal instructions. And then what happens? Verse 18 he gave unto Moses when he had made an end of Communion with him upon Mount Sinai. Two tables of testimony, tables of stone written with the finger of God. Several important things going on here. When you write something in stone. It’s very permanent versus, say, papyrus, which could easily burn. So God is trying to indicate the perpetual nature of this conditional Covenant. He’s maybe the people, if they do these things, here’s what will happen. And later, we’ll see that Moses actually smashes the tablets when he sees that the people have actually already broken their commitments to God. Smashing the tablets is a sign that the Covenant has been broken. And we’ll see later in chapters 33 and 34, God has to reinitiate the Covenant with them. Okay, so God’s Super merciful. There’s times he shows his anger, but they’re called tables of testimony. What’s a testimony. It’s a witness of something that we know to be true. So God is actually sending his testimony out of here is how I know that you can be happy.
That you can be happy if you do these things. I also find it significant, this little phrase written with the finger of God. Now we find the phrase finger of God in the story of God punishing the Egyptians and the plagues that come upon them. And the ancient Egyptians. For them, the finger of God, their gods were seen as signs and powers of being able to get stuff done. So we talk about the finger of God. It’s his ability to enact his power. And it turns out the Egyptians eventually see that God in heaven, he’s got the most powerful finger. What’s also interesting here, we’ll put a little image up. This is called the law code of Hammurabi comes from ancient Mesopotamia. There’s a King who is trying to create some order in his Empire and trying to bring together the laws so that people could understand how to live harmoniously. If you look carefully at this image, it actually has been carved out of a black piece of stone, and it looks like a finger. And up there you have King Hammurabi interacting with his God, who he believed was a real God, who he believed was giving these laws as written on stone.
So this idea is actually quite ancient, that God himself will deliver laws and put them on stone that cannot be broken unless the people themselves break the Commandments. God will have to reissue written tablets. But ultimately, what happens we get from Jeremiah saying, have it written on your heart. Great. Maybe you put the Ten Commandments on a wall somewhere. I don’t mean to be offensive to anybody. What good are the written Commandments if you don’t live them? God wants them in our heart doing them. And that’s why Moses and God get kind of upset at the people in the next chapter. It’s like, what’s going on here? I have just saved you out of Egypt. I’ve shown my power. There’s a burning fire on the mountain. I’ve given all these instructions, and you guys lose your minds.
Which, by the way, if you just for a second, look back at chapter 24, verse seven, and he Moses took the book of the Covenant and read in the audience of the people. And they said all that the Lord has said, will we do and be obedient? So they made that we’re going to do anything that God tells us to do, we’re going to be obedient. That was in chapter 24. And then you get all of this Tabernacle stuff in the interim. And now we jump back into the story and look at how it begins with chapter 32. Keep in mind, Moses is up on the Mount for 40 days and 40 nights. That’s a long time to be out of sight, out of mind for these people. Chapter 32, verse one, starts. And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the Mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Errand and said unto him, up, make us gods, which shall go before us. For as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we want not what has become of him. We don’t have any idea what happened to him, but we need gods to lead us.
And so Erin, notice in verse four, taking all of the gold and the earrings from the people, he fashioned a Graven calf. And he says to them, after this molten calf is prepared, and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. Now, just so you know the Hebrew word there, these be thy gods. The Hebrew word is Elohim. Now this is a very, very sacred name for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints today. And so we need to be careful how we use it, but understand that in their context and history this was not the name of God. This simply meant so it’s God and then it’s pluralized, so it just means gods. So when the people are dancing around this golden calf and they’re saying, behold the gods who brought us through the Red Sea on dry ground, they’re actually calling the golden calf Elohim. That’s the title. That’s what it means. The gods. And that name or that title of Elohim gets used multiple times in the Old Testament. In fact, in my mind, the definitive article written on this, the name of Elohim was written by Paul Hoskinson and Ryan Davis.
It’s called usage of the title Elohim if you want to Google that. And today, of course, it’s a very sacred title that we use to refer to God the Father, but it has not always been reserved with such sacred respect as it is today.
It’s really sad. God has put this much effort into saving his people because he committed to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to do it. And he’s like, look at all the great work I’ve done for you. Please be my people. And what do they do? They’re like the God Hathor who’s kind of this half God got us out in Egypt. We really liked her or some other forms of God. It seems like it’s really hard to get Egypt out of the people. God got them physically out of Egypt, and yet they seem in their hearts to want to turn back to Egypt and to make their own gods, just like the Egyptians had done to worship them. How does it make sense? Why would you worship something that you made? Why wouldn’t you worship something that made you? That’s what God is trying to do. And this is one of these pivotal chapters in all of scripture to tell all of us what happens when we lose focus on who ultimately is the great engraver, the great image maker. It is God. God makes us in his image. And then we get this feast going on.
Aaron’s like, let’s have a big feast, the word Holy day, right? A holiday. And they kind of just it’s like this drunken revelry of this excitement about some gold cap they’ve made. And you can imagine God like, I cannot believe what my people are doing.
Well, you see what God does in verse seven, the Lord said unto Moses, Go get thee down for thy people, which thou brought us out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.
And by the way, it’s interesting how God says that. There are really interesting words, the people for thy people, which thou brought us. It’s almost like God saying, they’re not my Moses, they’re your people. And I’m going to let you handle this one.
Yeah. As our King James Version of the Bible comes to us today in these particular passages here, these verses, they almost paint a picture of a God who has become very aloof and very angry at the people and wants to just destroy them. That’s how it’s going to come out in this next column. Thankfully, we have quite a few Joseph translation helps along the way in this chapter, because when Moses comes down off of the Mount and he sees that, you’ll notice before he actually comes down, the Lord tells him, My wrath may wax hot against them, that I may consume them, and I will make of the a great nation. That’s a fascinating dichotomy there. My anger is going to I’m going to destroy them, and then I’m going to make you view a great nation. Moses, besought the Lord, pleading with him, don’t destroy them.
He’s like an intercessor.
It’s very interesting that Moses is a Christ figure here, that he has to intercede. Now let’s give the covenantal context briefly, because you might say, wait, how is it I thought God was loving and merciful and forgiving all those things are true. But if you again, remember the Covenant or context that God is bound when we do what he says. So let’s not look at how God might be angry or so forth and think that’s like some permanent description of how he is. But read the Covenant of context that he’s covenantly obligated to give people blessings and curses based on how they choose to act.
That’s really helpful, Taylor. And you’ll see this covenantal connection that God keeps reminding us of in verse 13. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel? Isn’t it fascinating? He doesn’t use the name Jacob there. It’s Israel in this context. In our King James version.
It’S actually Moses reminding God about an eternal Covenant that God made. So here the people have broken the conditional Covenant in Sinai. And Moses says, well, it’s interesting, God, you made an unbreakable Covenant and promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob or Israel. So you should give these people another chance. And it’s powerful. The word remembers typically used to get us to remember our covenants and what God has done for us. And yet here Moses, as an intercessor, as a Jesus Christ character, is reminding God or asking him to remember what he has been obligated to do. And it’s a conditional if, then Covenant. And that’s what’s going on here. So you have these two major covenants, the Abrahamic Covenant. It’s God’s Covenant in perpetuity. The Mosaic Covenant is what God’s offered us. And if we choose to live it, we get full access to the Abrahamic Covenant. Pretty powerful it is.
Now look at verse 15. So Moses turned and he went down from the Mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand. The tables were written on both their sides. On the one side and on the other were they written. Remember, we talked about it before, written by the finger of God. So as he comes down, he sees what’s going on. And in that moment of frustration, he breaks those two tablets, that’s the only way to really destroy something written in stone is to drop it in such a way that it will shatter and break up into pieces. Which, by the way, many times when we read this story, we assume that he just broke the Ten Commandments. Now he’s going to go up and get a second copy of the Ten Commandments. Fair enough. Many of our Christian and Jewish friends of other faiths, that’s often how this passage is interpreted. Not always, but often, thanks to the Joseph translation that we’re going to get when we get over to chapter 34, we see that, oh, God had so much more to offer them when Moses was coming down the first time that what was written on that set of tablets was actually a higher law that gets broken.
And because of their unfaithfulness, they have to take a lower law of the priesthood as the set of covenants, almost as if to say they’re not capable yet at this phase, having come out of 400 plus years of apostasy, they’re not capable yet of this higher law of the gospel. So we’re going to give them a lesser law is often how that gets interpreted when you look at the JST in chapter 34, it will get to in a little bit. So verse 30, it came to pass that on the Mormon that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin, and now I will go up unto the Lord paradventure, I shall make an atonement for your sin. So he’s saying to them, I’m going to go up and I’m going to plead with God not to destroy you. So that experience of Moses up on the mountain, and he’s using this word in the Old Testament context of atonement. And you’ll notice that the word atonement shows up multiple times in the Old Testament, many times in the Book of Mormon, but it only shows up one time in the New Testament in Romans chapter five, one time in the King James Version of the Bible.
So what he’s doing? He’s going back up to make this pleading intercession for the children of Israel so that God doesn’t destroy them. Well, that event, they call that the Day of Atonement or today in Jewish festivals, Yom Kapur, this remembrance of what Moses did to intercede on behalf of the children of Israel. So when you hear Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, we’re not referring specifically in that context to what Jesus did. We’re referring to this event, which is a symbol for us as Christians today of what Jesus would one day do when he came to the Earth to make the ultimate intercession between God and all of humankind, to redeem our souls from death and hell, that awful monster, as Jacob refers to it.
So as we turn to exist. Chapter 33, we yet again see the Abrahamic Covenant invoked the phrase the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. That phrase recalls the grand promises that God made to Abraham and all his descendants. So it’s very interesting that when we see this pattern that God has obligated himself to make available those promises to Abraham’s children. And what now is going on is God is acting on those promises and he’s inviting the Israelites to get full access to that through the conditional covenants that are given at Mount Sinai. So you have these two symbolic mountains, Mount Mariah, Abrahamic Covenant, God’s Covenant to all of Abraham’s children and Mount Sinai, which is the Covenant. God makes this conditional Covenant. If Ye keep my Commandments, Ye shall prosper in the land. Here’s what we have verse one. And the Lord said unto Moses, Depart and go up. Hence thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I swear unto Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob, saying unto thy seed will I give it. God is a Covenant acting God.
He remembers his covenants. And even though the people have not kept their end of the bargain, he keeps offering the opportunity to get access. And there’s some also interesting doctrines we’re going to see here about interacting with God and what we learned from Moses as he interacts with God face to face.
So the reality is they’ve struggled so badly, it seems that Moses actually removes the Tabernacle out of the midst of the people and moves it out to outside of the camp. Verse seven, it says, Moses took the Tabernacle and pitched it without the camp afar off from the camp and called it the Tabernacle of the congregation. And so if you wanted to seek the Lord, you went out unto the Tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp. Now it’s not always going to be that way for their wilderness wanderings. It’s going to be in the middle, and they’re going to be camped around it in a very specific order that we’re going to find in the beginning chapters of Numbers. And so you’ll notice Moses goes into the Tabernacle, and here you get chapter 33, verse eleven. And the Lord speak unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his friend. Don’t you find it interesting that it is so clear that as a man speaketh under his friend face to face, that’s how God is speaking to him in the Tabernacle, presumably in the Holy of Holies. And yet some would point to verse 20 and say, Wait a minute, wait a minute.
The Bible contradicts itself here because in verse 20 it says, and he said, Thou canst not see my face, for there shall no man see me and live gratefully. Joseph Smith has an addition to that that you can find in the appendix back here in the very ending of your Bible. When you look at verse 20 here, it says, and he said unto Moses, Thou canst not see my face at this time, lest my anger be kindled against thee also, and I destroy thee and thy people, for there shall no man among them see me at this time and live, for they are exceeding sinful, and no sinful man hath at any time, neither shall there be any sinful man at any time that shall see my face and live. It’s a very different reading than what we get in the King James County. And it’s true, and it’s true.
It’s amazing the little things that get left out that the statement that’s actually in the Old Testament is true. But it’s more true when you read it in the Fuller context.
Thank heaven for Joseph Smith and his prophetic rule. Now you get to chapter 34, and it tells Moses to hew two additional tables of stone like unto the first. And I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables which thou breakest. So if all you have is the King James Version or the Bible account without the Joe Smith translation, boy, it sure looks like we’re going to make a carbon copy of what you had the first time. But once again, if you turn to the back and look at the Josema translation in the appendix, chapter 34, verse one through two, he adds some beautiful insight here that you don’t get in the biblical account alone. He tells him, yeah, go make stones like the first, and I’ll write upon them also the words of the law according as they were written on the first, at the first on the tables which thou breakest, but it shall not be according to the first. For I will take away the priesthood out of their midst. Therefore my Holy order and the ordinances thereof shall not go before them, for My presence shall not go up in their midst.
I destroy them. And then he goes on in verse two with some additional additions. There some changes to clarify that what we’re getting is not the same as the first time up the mountain.
What I love here is how God introduces this new set of instructions. And contrary to what we might think from Exodus, chapter 32, that God’s angry. Listen to what he says. Verse five. The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with Moses there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. Verse six. And the Lord passed by before him and proclaimed the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in goodness and truth. Verse seven, keeping mercy for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. And that will by no means clear the guilty visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the children’s children until the third and the fourth generation. So again, because he’s covenanted to Abraham’s children to offer them the blessings he’s covenanted to be forgiving and gracious and merciful to keep giving people opportunities to try again. Now, he does say that if there’s a curse to happen or if somebody is going to commit inequity, it’s going to impact the third and fourth generation. It turns out we misread that. We think, oh, well, that means it’s going to be two or three or 400 years of problems.
Maybe that’s the case. It turns out that if you take an ancient biblical world context, every man had his own tent, his own home, and often that man would live in a large tent with his own sons and daughters and the son’s wives and those children’s, that’s the second and third generation and sometimes their grandchildren’s children, they were all part of the family of that man and his wife. And if a man, the leader of his house, does something to break the Covenant with God, it actually impacted the family back then. That’s really what it meant to the third and fourth generation. It really meant who’s ever within the house. That’s really what was going on. Anciently and so symbolically we sometimes say, oh, that’s going to impact all the family. We have to be careful here to not say that everybody else is going to be punished for sin. It’s more of a covenantal thing, that somebody who has the responsibility to teach the family and to lead them in the paths of righteousness. If they don’t, they may cause hurt to people within a family context.
So you’ll notice what God has promised in these verses that Taylor read. Now look at verse nine. Moses said, if now I have found Grace in thy sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee go amongst us, among us, for it is a stiffnecked people and pardon our iniquity and our sin and take us for thine inheritance. I love that interceding, that mediating tone coming from Moses pleading with God. And so God in verse ten responds, Behold, I make a Covenant before all thy people. I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the Earth, nor in any nation, and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord. For it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee. Terrible meaning, grand and glorious, not awful and miserable. And then he introduces some additional attributes of this covenantal agreement and talks a little bit about the unleavened bread. And then he gives them some instructions regarding the Sabbath day and the significance of the Sabbath day. And then Moses comes back down off of the Mount, not realizing in verse 29 that his face shone while he was speaking with the people.
He has come down and he’s shining with glory. It’s kind of fascinating, but if you’re familiar with the famous marble statue of Moses by Michelangelo, you’ll notice Moses has horns coming out of his head, and it’s a little bit surprising. Well, what’s going on here? The funny thing is in the Hebrew, the word for Horn and light, or this glowing power, it’s the same word. And so you can interpret it into English or translate it into English as either horns or light.
It probably is rays of light. This is actually a very common ancient symbol that somebody who’s had divine experience is showing forth the light like the rays of the sun. And that’s what Moses has. Interestingly. If you look at the Book of Mormon, when a beaded eyed goes to kingdom’s people who have been breaking the Covenant instructions, and the priests like, well, we teach the law of Moses, and they can’t even explain what the Ten Commandments are a bit. And I have to review the Covenant instructions. The Ten Commandments say, if you do this, you prosper the land. They didn’t do it. They didn’t prosper the land. But notice that abidded I his face shines like Moses did while he’s been in the mountains. So there’s a deep tie that Mormon is recording, actually, probably from Alma that Abididae was the Moses character to the priests of Noah, who they claimed they were teaching the word of Moses. And you really only had one man doing it. It was a binadai who they killed so some interesting connections there between the Book of Mormon and this Old Testament story in Exodus.
So as we close our books on this particular lesson today, nothing that we’ve talked about today matters at all if God isn’t in his heavens, if Jesus isn’t the Christ but what we’ve talked about today does matter because heavenly Father is in his heavens. Jesus is the Christ and his gospel is being spread forth into all the world to bring people to him into this covenantal connection so he can then bring us into the presence of God. And we see this pattern over and over again throughout these chapters of the Old Testament, recognizing it’s not as old as we sometimes leave it. It’s also a new and everlasting Covenant that Christ has given us today and opened up the gates of heaven for us today to walk back. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.