When we stopped last time, Israel was camping at the base of Mt. Sinai. They were at the same place God spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
He told Moses, “… this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain.” Exodus 3:12b
When they arrived at Mt. Sinai, Moses went up to God for instructions. You will find them in Exodus 19:1-8. Here are a few quotes:
4‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.”
After Moses told the elders and people these words, the people said together, 8“All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
What I am about to tell you now, may be new information for many of you. The words the people said, were a typical response to the wedding vows of a Bride to her Groom. God was establishing a covenant with Israel and giving His instructions for a healthy relationship.
In Hebrew culture, there are three stages for Biblical marriage. The Betrothal, The Marriage, and The Wedding Reception or Wedding Supper.
The feasts of the LORD mark these same stages. Passover is the choosing of a bride. Jesus chose His Bride and paid the price for her with His very life at Passover. The lamb’s blood over the doorway and doorposts at the first Passover symbolized the price Jesus would ultimately pay. That sign kept Israel safe and opened a door for them to leave Egypt, slavery, and an idolatrous system of worship.
For the first seven days after leaving Egypt, they celebrated the feast of Unleavened Bread. They reflected on God’s protection and deliverance. Then, they crossed the Red Sea and became God’s holy nation and royal priesthood.
The next forty-nine days (the feast of Weeks) were days of preparation to meet their groom face-to-face for the betrothal. The feasts were and are a road map leading to a wedding day. These first three feasts prepared Israel to receive the covenant from her Bridegroom.
On the 50th day, Pentecost, the betrothal took place. Israel, the Bride, would be considered legally married even though they would not live together until their wedding.
Now let’s get back to the story. After the people agreed to the words God told them, Moses returned to the mountain.
In Exodus 19:10-11, God tells him, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. 11 And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.
Let’s take a look at the word means God was asking them to prepare to come before Him as His chosen ones, His holy ones. They were no longer slaves. The act of washing their clothes and bathing was in effect washing away their previous identity and mindsets.
So, Moses went down and gave these instructions to the people.
Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. 20 Then the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Exodus 19:16-20
God warned the people not to come up the mountain and not to touch it. Then He called Moses and Aaron only to come up as all the Israelites gathered at the base of the mountain.
It was then that God spoke the Ten Commandments or Ten Words, as they are sometimes called. One of the ways Israel heard these ten statements was an outline of behavior for the covenant of marriage.
In Jewish betrothals, the bride and groom create a prenuptial agreement called a ketubah together. Both parties read and sign it and then read at the betrothal. A ketubah is a copy of the wedding vows.
The ten commandments represent several things:
1. An agreed legal code of conduct for God’s royal priesthood
2. A covenant between two parties—God and His children
3. The beginning of the Kingdom of God-a holy nation
4. A way of God telling Israel that He loves them
Read through these as guidelines for a healthy marriage. If you look closely, you will see that Jesus spoke about these same ten categories in His Sermon on the Mount at a deeper heart level.
1. You shall have no other gods before Me.
2. You shall not make idols.
3. You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
4. Keep the Sabbath day holy.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder.
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
10. You shall not covet.
In Jesus’ day, one of the scribes asked Jesus, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” – They had 613 of them plus the ones the Pharisees added.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40
Within the two commandments Jesus spoke, all Ten Commandments were covered. In our Western culture, we’ve turned the Ten Commandments into legalism. They are instead, a bridal covenant from Love Himself. Listen to these other words from Jesus:
John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
The Israelites heard God speak the Ten Commandments. But they were afraid. God’s voice mingled with flashing lightning, crashing thunder, and a shaking fiery mountain were all enough to scare anyone. God went on to tell Moses more commandments and instructions. You will find these in Exodus 20:22-Exodus 23:33.
Then God called Moses, Aaron, two other leaders, and seventy elders to come up the mountain. But first, Moses took time to write all that God had just spoken. And again in Exodus 24:3, the people responded, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do.”
At that point, Moses built an altar and affirmed the covenant with all the people. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read all God’s words again to the people. Their response was, “All that the Lord has said we will do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7
The leaders and elders gathered and went back up the mountain. But Moses went alone to the top to be with God. He was there for forty days.
I had hoped to go further, but we have covered so very much. I guarantee future posts will not be this long. It was important to lay this foundation to understand the rest of the story.
Next time we will start Chapter 25 and begin to examine each instruction given in depth. Thank you, for your patience. While going over all these details may have felt cumbersome, remember God counts the hairs on each of our heads. He is a God of precise details that often have multiple meanings in the future. He knows and loves us intimately. We have a huge treasure hunt ahead. God bless, each of you.
Here are other scriptures that confirm God’s relationship to Israel and the Body of Christ:
For your Maker is your husband,
The Lord of hosts is His name;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel;
He is called the God of the whole earth. Isaiah 54:5
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: Jeremiah 3:14
My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. Jeremiah 31:32b
And in the New Testament:
In 2 Corinthians 1:1 Paul wrote to the church of God in Corinth and Achaia. (These were mainly Gentile believers, not Jews.)
For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you (I have given you in marriage- betrothal) to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:2
2 thoughts on “The Tabernacle – The BackStory Conclusion”
Good post for Yahweh marrying his people. It is important to make a a base to explain the rest. Blessings!
Yes, Pure Glory, it is important to lay a foundation. There is so much more that could have been written. My hope is that there was enough here to do the foundation justice and give understanding.
Thanks for your comment.