READ: Exodus 29-30
THINK: Rules, rituals, routines-all performed in intricate detail. While the garments and furnishings were elaborate, the ceremonies were not convenient or attractive. They were not meant to be, as these things symbolized the seriousness of sin and the separation that exists between God and people. Those who performed these rituals had to prepare with intense precision and stark realization of their responsibilities. After all, the priests represented a pure and perfect God to sinful people. And they made restitution for the people's offenses by approaching God with a sober awareness of their own shortcomings. What's more, these ceremonies had to be observed over and over to maintain Israel's special relationship with God. Thankfully, this is no longer the case, since Jesus Christ made the perfect sacrifice for sin through His own suffering and death. Now, the ongoing rituals have been replaced by an eternal relationship with God, available to all who accept Jesus' sacrifice, forsake their sin, and follow Him.
RESPOND: Why do so many of the rituals described in this passage deal with purifying the priests and setting them apart for service? (See 29:4 note.) Why did the priests lay their hands on the bull's head, and what did this act symbolize? (See 29:10 note.) Why did the people need a substitute in making an offering for their sin? What is the price of sin and why couldn't the people pay the penalty themselves? What or who became the ultimate substitute and made the perfect sacrifice for sin? (See 29:10 note.) Why did the sacrifices and rituals need to be performed over and over? What did the burning of incense symbolize? (See 30:1 note.) In what way can prayers and worship be unacceptable to God? What does it mean to make "atonement"? (See 30:10 note and the Glossary of Terms, p. 2265 in the FBSE.) What was the purpose of the anointing oil, and what did it represent?
PRAY: Give God thanks that we no longer have to perform extensive rituals and routines to make restitution for sin or gain access to God. Thank Jesus for being our substitute and making the perfect sacrifice with His own life. Devote yourself to holy obedience to God so that your worship and prayers come from a pure heart.
ACT: Take every opportunity you have this week to join with others in worship to God, doing so with wholehearted sincerity and intense passion. Also, set aside daily private time to worship God, perhaps singing along with some good worship music in your room or car, or taking a walk and expressing praise to God in your own words.
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