Exodus Chapter Thirty

Holiness in Worship

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In our study of Exodus chapter thirty, we look at holiness in worship and the fact that it is to be a unique experience.

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Exodus 30:1-5

"You are to make an altar on which to burn incense; make it of acacia-wood. It is to be eighteen inches square and three feet high; its horns are to be of one piece with it. Overlay it with pure gold - its top, all around its sides, and its horns; and put around it a molding of gold. Make two gold rings for it under its molding at the two corners on both sides; this is where the carrying-poles will go. Make the poles of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold.

Here we see the construction details for the altar of incense and it is very similar to the altar for offerings except for the fact that it is smaller and is overlaid with gold rather than bronze.

Exodus 30:6

"Place it in front of the curtain by the ark for the testimony, in front of the ark-cover that is over the testimony, where I will meet with you.

We see that the incense altar was to be placed in front of the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place.

Exodus 30:7-10

Aharon will burn fragrant incense on it as a pleasing aroma every morning; he is to burn it when he prepares the lamps. Aharon is also to burn it when he lights the lamps at dusk; this is the regular burning of incense before ADONAI through all your generations. You are not to offer unauthorized incense on it, or a burnt offering or a grain offering; and you are not to pour a drink offering on it. Aharon is to make atonement on its horns once a year - with the blood of the sin offering of atonement he is to make atonement for it once a year through all your generations; it is especially holy to ADONAI."

Daily, Aharon would go in to the Holy Place in the morning and extinguish the menorah, clean it, and prepare it to be lit again. At that time, he was to burn the incense (samim) on the altar. In the evening. Aharon was to go in and light the menorah and, at that time, he was to burn incense again. This was to be done everyday and nothing else was to be burned on this altar. Once per year, on the Day of Atonement, Aharon was to take blood from the sin offering and place it on the horns of the incense altar to make atonement for it.

Exodus 30:11-16

ADONAI said to Moshe, "When you take a census of the people of Isra'el and register them, each, upon registration, is to pay a ransom for his life to ADONAI, to avoid any breakout of plague among them during the time of the census. Everyone subject to the census is to pay as an offering to ADONAI half a shekel - by the standard of the sanctuary shekel (a shekel equals twenty gerahs). Everyone over twenty years of age who is subject to the census is to give this offering to ADONAI - the rich is not to give more or the poor less than the half-shekel when giving ADONAI's offering to atone for your lives. You are to take the atonement money from the people of Isra'el and use it for the service in the tent of meeting, so that it will be a reminder of the people of Isra'el before ADONAI to atone for your lives."

Now, we see that there was to be a yearly census where every male twenty years old and older was to be registered and was to pay a half shekel for the work of atonement in the tabernacle. We see that everyone was equal as the rich could not give more and the poor could not give less and the purpose of this was remembrance of the covenant between God and the people of Israel.

Exodus 30:17-21

ADONAI said to Moshe, "You are to make a basin of bronze, with a base of bronze, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. Aharon and his sons will wash their hands and feet there when they enter the tent of meeting - they are to wash with water, so that they won't die. Also when they approach the altar to minister by burning an offering for ADONAI, they are to wash their hands and feet, so that they won't die. This is to be a perpetual law for them through all their generations."

A bronze basin was to be made and placed between the tent of meeting and the altar for burnt offerings. This basin was to be filled with water and the priests were to wash their hands and feet prior to entering the tent of meeting. If this was not done, they would be killed and this speaks of preparation for worship.

Exodus 30:22-29

ADONAI said to Moshe, "Take the best spices - 500 shekels of myrrh, half this amount (250 shekels) of aromatic cinnamon, 250 shekels of aromatic cane, 500 shekels of cassia (use the sanctuary standard), and one gallon of olive oil - and make them into a holy anointing oil; blend it and perfume it as would an expert perfume-maker; it will be a holy anointing oil. Use it to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark for the testimony, the table and all its utensils, the menorah and all its utensils, the incense altar, the altar for burnt offerings and all its utensils, and the basin with its base. You are to consecrate them - they will be especially holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

Now, we see the composition of the anointing oil but we do not know what the word that is translated as cassia actually means so it would be impossible to make this today. We see that this was to be made by a skilled craftsman and the word in the Hebrew text is where the modern Hebrew word for pharmacy comes from and that speaks of healing. We see that the "healing" from this anointing oil was to make all of the tent of meeting and its furnishings especially holy and that anything that comes into contact with them would become holy as well.

Exodus 30:30-33

Then you are to anoint Aharon and his sons - you are to consecrate them to serve me in the office of cohen. "Tell the people of Isra'el, 'This is to be a holy anointing oil for me through all your generations. It is not to be used for anointing a person's body; and you are not to make any like it, with the same composition of ingredients - it is holy, and you are to treat it as holy. Whoever makes any like it or uses it on any unauthorized person is to be cut off from his people.'"

This anointing oil is to be used to consecrate the priests but it is not to be used on anyone else and it is not to be duplicated to be used for anything else. We see that the penalty for anyone that does so is to be cut off from the family of Israel and that speaks of the fact that the covenant will no longer apply to them.

Exodus 30:34-38

ADONAI said to Moshe, "Take aromatic plant substances - balsam resin, sweet onycha root and bitter galbanum gum - these spices along with frankincense, all in equal quantities; and make incense, blended and perfumed as would an expert perfume-maker, salted, pure and holy. You are to grind up some of it very finely and put it in front of the testimony in the tent of meeting where I will meet with you; you are to regard it as especially holy. You are not to make for your own use any incense like it, with the same composition of ingredients - you are to treat it as holy, for ADONAI. Whoever makes up any like it to use as perfume is to be cut off from his people."

Now, we see the formula for the incense that was to be burned on the incense altar and, although there are substances listed here, we do not know what the substances were based on the Hebrew text. Once again, we see that the formula is not to be duplicated and used for anything else and anyone that does so would be cut off from Israel.

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