Monday, January 24, 2011

New Year: Ex 26-28 for Jan 24

Are the details of tabernacle construction (Ex 25-27) of interest to God? Not merely that, but they are specified by God, and He does so by giving a pattern (cf. Heb 8;5). Really!

We could answer a possible objection here. Perhaps an objection might occur to some people, or even ourselves, that religions often try to posture their practices as having been directed by a god, in order to create awe in the communicants, for the purpose of controlling behavior.

The answer to such objections, if they are levelled at Exodus from chapter 12 on, is that such a theory doesn't fit what we read. If the Israelites had an imagined god, and were trying to convince the readers that the Tabernacle was specified by the god, and their rules were specified by the god -- why then, are the rules so helter-skelter? Why are even the main rules so few (ten; Ex 34:28)? Why is the Tabernacle so broadly specified, with provocative annotations like 25:22, that point to something necessarily beyond themselves? Instead of being a concoction, Exodus reads for all the world like what you are doing when you have an ongoing relationship in which the things written down are incomplete, but that's OK, because God's presence is the main thing, directing the incomplete details toward their end.

An analogy would be the difference between following the instructions of an architect who is on the site with us, versus doing things all by ourselves, in the absence of an architect. Exodus shows all the signs of a people who are taking up things under direction, not a people faking being directed! If God says to write this rule down about ascending to the altar by stairs (Ex 20:25ff), in the same instruction set as not to worship other gods (20:23), this is how we would truly expect those who follow a living God to write it down. It bears all the earmarks of people being directed, not people trying to impress you with their organized religion.

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