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February 26, Day #57 – How to Lose Everything

In Exodus 37-38, we come to the construction of the ark, the table, the lampstand, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering, the tabernacle courtyard, etc. Each of these different components are important for the Israelites and their worship of the Lord, and all of them have spiritual significance – as well as relevance to Israel’s future worship when the people as a nation will worship in a temple, of which the tabernacle was a precursor. The ark is a picture of Christ, for it is covered with gold that speaks of our King. Moreover, it is a place of refuge - hidden in the holy of holies – and it will eventually house Aaron’s rod that budded, the stone tablets of the law, and the pot of manna. The table is a picture of Christ as the Bread of life. The lampstand portrays Christ as the Light of the world, and the altar of incense reveals the beauty and fragrance of Christ as our sweet savor offering before the Lord God. The altar of burnt offering speaks of Christ as our sacrificial lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. The wash basin reveals Christ as our Agent of cleansing for our sins, and the tabernacle courtyard contemplates Christ’s place as the door and the gate - where His ministry opens up to meet the needs of all the world. The colors - blue, purple, and scarlet – clearly represent His heavenly glory, His royalty, and His shed blood. All of these worship elements provided meaningful representation to the Israelites of their promised Messiah and coming King. The construction details for these items are fascinating, although it may be difficult for us to envision their blueprints. It is important that God did not say, “Just use any wood.” Acacia wood is a beautiful, hard, grainy, middle eastern wood that can be sanded and polished to be exceedingly smooth. It was God’s perfect choice for the ark. These chapters show us that, in everything, God is selective about His will. He provides the exact details and specifications for what He wants – as we pointed out before - He is attentive to minutiae.

Our verses from Proverbs 6:1-11 emphasize God’s concern that we live self-disciplined lives, free from the harsh controls and chaotic snares that external creditors may impose on us (cf., Proverbs 6:3-5). If we don’t order our lives properly, others will freely do it for us, and they will squeeze us with pressures beyond our belief. This is what police and the courts do for people whose lives are disordered and out of control. We live in a preferred, alternative culture where precious little self-discipline exists, and this explains why so many people are enslaved by debt, poverty, drugs, obesity, and many other extreme social taskmasters. This transitions nicely into our passage from Mark’s gospel ...

Notice in Mark 8:1-21. A large crowd – “about four-thousand men” - had gathered, but they “had nothing to eat” (verse 1). Probably after centuries of crowd-gatherings, today’s modern crowds that gather together usually have learned to supply or bring food along for themselves. This is not a criticism, but it is a truth consistent with Proverbs 6, and through which, Jesus would bring glory to God. Historically, people have ignored biblical warnings, hardened their hearts to the truth, and although we all have eyes to see and ears to hear, nevertheless, many people insist upon living under the jurisdictions of self-imposed blindness and deafness (cf., Mark 8:18). The cultural consequences are enormous - affecting both unbelievers and believers alike. Jesus will use these situations as teachable moments. We read that He had “compassion for these people” (verse 2). This is still true today – He is compassionate toward us all – perhaps even especially in our foolishness. We notice that He fed the four thousand, He warned the disciples to “watch out for the leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod” (verses 14-21), and then He healed the blind man (verses 22-25). What is the leaven of Herod? It is all those things of which Herod (and our current culture) was guilty – lust for power and sexual perversity, greed, and political corruption. By contrast, our reading today from Exodus 37-38 reveals the fruits of a self-disciplined culture.

Truly, we have nothing to offer in exchange for our souls (cf., Mark 8:36-37). The only thing we can offer to God right now – is to do what God asks us and to love Him wholly. Our valueless world is so very lost - people have no idea of what they are paying out for their present denial of God – and worse – they have no idea of the worthlessness of its return. As Jesus said - those who believe they can save themselves will lose everything.

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