Bible Readings for March 24th
Throughout Exodus, we have seen Yahweh drawing clear boundaries that separate his holiness from everything that is common: to a high degree from the wider world, but also from different groups of Israelites in varying degrees. Only the priests are set apart for holy ministry, but Yahweh also calls the rest of Israel to enter into his holiness in two specific ways, which he lays out in Exodus 35.
First, the Sabbath day was a day that was holy to Yahweh (Ex. 35:1–3). Just as the space of the tabernacle was holy so that the presence of Yahweh dwelt in it, so also the time of the Sabbath day was holy, and anyone who violated the Sabbath by doing work was guilty of a crime just as though they had profaned the tabernacle—they would be guilty of profaning the very holiness of Yahweh.
Second, the Israelites were given an opportunity to contribute the materials that would be used for the construction of the tabernacle (Ex. 35:4–29). Part of the reason the Israelites were called to contribute raw materials was practical—no tabernacle supply companies existed in that day. Still, much more of the reason for asking Israelites to contribute was theological: Yahweh was calling all his people to play a part in constructing the tabernacle.
This theme gets picked up in the New Testament, but with a twist. In the New Testament, believers in Jesus Christ are also called to bring contributions that will help construct the temple of the new covenant, but we aren’t asked to bring gold, silver, bronze, or fabrics: we are called to bring ourselves. In the new covenant, we are the raw materials that God is using to build his temple.
So, Paul explains that all of us who are in Christ are now being joined together with other saints into a structure built on the cornerstone of Jesus Christ “in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Eph. 2:21–22). Peter then explains why God would want us to be his temple: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).
As Christians, we are called to walk in God’s holiness because he dwells in us and because he asks of us spiritual sacrifices that we offer through Jesus Christ. We are a holy priesthood whom God has called not to mediate for the sins of others—only our Great High Priest Jesus Christ can do that. Rather, we are called to worship God as his dwelling place and through the spiritual sacrifices we bring to him—especially when we gather together in holy time every Lord’s Day.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.