As I have said on many occasions, I am a rape survivor.
As in the vast majority of cases of college rape, my assailant was a “friend” (over 80 percent of sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances. Forty-seven percent of rapists are people that victims have identified as a friend or acquaintance, while 25% of rapists are intimate partners. The remaining five percent of sexual predators in this instance are family members. Thank you RAINN at http://www.rainn.org for those stats).
My assailant was also a football player. Studies have clearly shown that athletes are more likely to rape.
And as I am sure most people know, rape, at least what is reported, is highly likely to have been perpetrated by a male upon a woman.
Yet, our society continues to place the blame on victims.
I know this all too well. No one can convince me that the prosecutor who reviewed my case did not look for every reason not to charge my assailant. He questioned why I did not fight. He questioned my admitted drunkenness in an accusatory manner instead of asking my assailant why he took it upon himself to violate someone who was passed out. I understand that rape cases can be hard to prosecute, and obviously this guy was more interested in taking cases he could easily win. So while I,knowing I was being completely honest and trying to do the right thing, just assumed this guy would take my side. I was the victim, after all. It was a great shock when he didn’t, and an even greater shock when my former university, now being investigated by the feds for Title IX violations in accordance to their improper handling of sexual assault, decided that the rapist was a more valuable student than me. While I was involved in multiple volunteer programs, that paled in comparison to the yardage he gained as he helped propel Grand Valley State University to its second Division II victory in 2003. Those guys were invincible at that time. And I was a nobody.
So, perhaps I viewed the following article with eyes and a mind darkened by my experience.
In brief, a study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the University of Windsor, with 900 women from the universities of Windsor, Guelph, and Calgary. It found that women who participated in four three-hour long sessions on how to recognize danger, resist pressure to have sex and engage in physical defense were less likely to be raped.
My hat goes off to these researchers. I am not knocking what they found.
What am I knocking is the implication of such research. Any education that may prevent rape is invaluable. However, why in the world aren’t men required to attend training that teaches them how to keep their hands (and other parts) to themselves? Or how to recognize and stop a friend who may be a rapist? If a woman takes the training and is still raped, what can be said then? I suppose I am just sensitive to the idea that it is the potential victim’s responsibility to keep a criminal from violating her instead of focusing on the actual criminal’s responsibility to control himself.
Where did I leave off? (I better move on. I can get pretty intense when discussing sexual assault, for obvious reasons).
Ahh, that’s right. We are on Exodus 25.
Here’s the thing about the following chapters that I am reviewing today, chapters 25-31… they are difficult to read. Reason being that God is laying out his instructions for building and furnishing the tabernacle and outfitting the priests. There are a lot of details that, after reading them over and over again, become redundant. I am not going to repeat all of those details here, so this recap may be kind of short (unless I get long-winded, which is always a very strong possibility). Although it is not information that I absolutely need to know, the inquisitive side of me that longs to know all things God can’t help but wonder why God felt the need to be this detailed in his instruction. Then I reminded myself that this is still the same group of people that had lived among the ungodly Egyptians for 430 years. This whole one-God thing was brand spanking new to them.
I can laugh about this now, but about two hours ago I got so frustrated I almost reverted back to my cussing 21-year-old self. All because of this thing here:
Several months ago my husband bought this thing for our kids. Neither of us has had the time to sit and put it together. This evening, I thought it might be fun if I finally got it together. My babies have been missing their dad since he has been working overtime, so I thought a nice game of arcade basketball would lift their little spirits.
As you can see by the picture there are a lot of pieces–different connectors, poles of different lengths, etc. The instructions were flippin’ awful. There were a series of pictures and since I am not usually one to put stuff together, I found them to be very confusing (not to mention that several of the pieces do not fit together properly, and in my anger I jammed them in anyway and bent them). I would have appreciated better instructions, being new at it and all (from now on, I will happily leave the duties of putting these things together to my husband).
Of course I am not comparing something as trivial as putting together a cheap plastic arcade to God building his nation, but–I guess I am :-). The Israelites were new to this entire process and needed very detailed instructions. Without them, they would naturally lean to their own understanding and fail. By providing these instructions, God was showing just how seriously he was taking his commitment to his people. He is not a vague God–we know what he expects of us. We fail when we do not heed to his Word, as what happens repeatedly with the Israelites. When our life is a mess and we cannot figure out how to put it together, we have to consult the Instruction Manual (my pet name for the Holy Bible). God is giving his people their instruction manual.
At the beginning of chapter 25, God starts out by telling Moses to have the Israelites bring him an offering. I like that he says that the offering is to be from “everyone whose heart prompts them to give” (25:2b). Again, the idea is that God expects for offerings to come from the heart. It should delight us to show our appreciation for the blessings God has graciously bestowed upon us. Following this, God gives a little list of items he will use for the tabernacle. Notice that these are some high-quality items:
Gold, silver and bronze
Blue, purple and scarlet yarn
Ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather
Onyx stones and other gems
All of these materials will be used for the sanctuary in which God will dwell among the people.
Now God will give specifics on how this tabernacle is to be made. He begins with a blueprint for the ark. It is to be made of acacia wood. From my understanding, acacia trees were plentiful in the area the Israelites inhabited. It is also extremely strong and resistant to agents that typically cause decay in wood, such as water and insects. The wood of this tabernacle was strong enough to remain standing for 400 years. There is still furniture today that is made from acacia wood. As far as I can tell, there is no spiritual reason for the use of acacia wood, just convenience and strength.
Gorgeous acacia wood side table
Next the Israelites are to construct an atonement cover that will be used to cover the ark of the covenant law. There are to be two cherubim, one at each end. Cherubim is special rank of angels. I took a class on angelology at Moody years ago, and it was by far one of the most enlightening courses I’ve taken. We have so many man-made misconceptions about angels. The entire number of angels has already been created by God. They are all male, thus angels do not reproduce. People do not become angels after death. I do not recall a number being given that would express how many angels God created. All I know is that they were created by God and for God, but they also have some degree of free will. This is obvious because when one of God’s loveliest angels, Lucifer, got puffed up with pride and for unexplainable reasons decided he could beat God–his creator–at his own game, 1/3 of the heavenly host decided to follow him. These are the fallen angels–the bad guys. The remaining 2/3 are loyal to God. Of all of the angels, only three are named–Lucifer (who we all know as Satan, the name bestowed upon him after his fall; Michael, the archangel; and Gabriel, an angel who is seen delivering important messages from God. The good angels can be further divided in seraphim, which are angels with priestly duties and seem to be in constant praise mode, and cherubim, powerful angels that are the “soldier” angels, if you will. Seraphim may be a higher rank of angel because of their close proximity to God. Cherubim are the ones we see in the Bible going to follow through on God’s judgments. For example, cherubim were seen holding flaming swords as Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden in Genesis. They are God’s guardians.
Their guardianship role is symbolized right here in Exodus. The cherubim in this passage of Scripture are to have their wings extended. The presence of the Lord would dwell safely above their outstretched wings in the form of a cloud.
Further instructions are given about the table (also made of acacia wood) and plates, dishes, pitchers and bowls, which all are to be of pure gold. God refers to “the bread of the Presence” which is always supposed to be before him. More information about this bread can be found in Leviticus 24, such as instructions as to how this bread is to be displayed–twelve loaves in two rows of six on a plate of pure gold.
As for the tabernacle, chapter 26 outlines the curtains that are to be made. One set of ten curtains is to be made with finely twisted blue, purple and scarlet yarn with cherubim interwoven in them. Eleven goat hair curtains are to be made for the tent over the tabernacle. The tent is to be covered by the dyed red rams’ skin. The ram skin covering is to be covered as well, by another durable leather.The frames and crossbars for the tabernacle are to be made of acacia wood. The frames have silver bases and the crossbars have gold overlay. Another curtain is made of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, again with interwoven cherubim. This curtain exists to separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. The Most Holy Place could only be entered by Aaron, the High Priest, once a year–the Day of Atonement when he made atonement for the sins of the entire nation. The Most Holy Place was God’s dwelling. Priests, not just Aaron, entered the Holy Place each day to make sure the tabernacle was maintained properly and went about the business of honoring God through his established rituals (sacrifices, offerings, etc). This curtain has supreme significance. In later years the tabernacle was replaced by the temple as the place of worship. Recall this powerful scene from the death of our Jesus:
“With a loud cry, Jesus breathed His last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 14:37-38).
What’s so important about a torn curtain? Well, look at the function of the curtain. Only priests could enter the Holy Place, and only Aaron could enter the Most Holy Place (a.k.a Holiest of Holies). That means had I been a civilian Israelite back in those days, I’d have been separated from God. The torn curtain symbolized our freedom to approach God. HALLELUJAH!!!!!!!!!!
A curtain is also to be fashioned for the entrance to the tent.
In Chapter 27, the altar of burnt offering,courtyard and oil for the lampstand are discussed. The altar is to be made of acacia and bronze overlay. The utensils–pots,shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans, are all to be made of bronze. The courtyard is to have curtains of finely twisted linen and bronze bases. Side note: Measurements for these items leading up to now are in cubits. One cubit is the distance between the tip of one’s middle finger to the elbow (modern-day estimates suggest that a cubit is between 18-22 cm). The lamps are to be powered continuously by the oil from pressed olives.
Chapters 28 and 29 focus on the priests. God tells Moses, “Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor” (28:1-2). Knowing what is to come of Nadab and Abihu, I wonder if the separation between the two brothers was intentional, or am I just reading too much into it… so I digress. I like how God has a purpose to the garments that Aaron and his sons are to wear. These garments serve as a sign of their priestly role. As I read the description of the priestly garments–the ephod, breastpiece, robe, tunic, turban and sash, I thought about uniforms today, inside and outside of church. What is the purpose of wearing uniforms? First, uniforms are used to identify people, typically by their job. Doctors wear lab coats. Police officers have special uniforms. Children in some schools, like the school my son attends, wear uniforms. Which leads me to my second observation–uniforms not only help to identify the membership of an individual to a particular group or certain type of job. They also serve as a reminder to the person in the uniform about their purpose. I am sure a police officer thinks of himself or herself as a police officer 24/7 because our professions tend to determine so much of our identity. However, a police officer has to hold himself or herself to an even higher standard of conduct and behavior when they are wearing that uniform. The same can be said for our veterans.
At my church, a dedication ceremony is performed by our pastor any time one of the auxiliaries gets new uniforms. The uniforms are blessed and pastor reminds the people wearing the uniforms that they are to only be used in service to God. I think there are comparisons to be made between the priestly garments and the robes worn by pastors or choir members, the suits worn by ushers, the dresses worn by church nurses,etc. The uniforms are a sign of their dignified position and when they are wearing those garments, their mind has to be totally aligned with God so that their behavior can reflect their office. The uniforms should remind individuals of their duty and should not be worn outside of church services. Could you imagine a police officer wearing his uniform like it was a regular outfit? Should a church usher wear her uniform when she goes bowling? Nah.
Moving on, I also like how God says “Tell all the skilled workers to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest” (28:3). In previous sections, God calls for “skilled workers”. In Scriptures to follow he mentions “embroiderers” and “perfumers”. Even then and now, God is in the gift-giving business. He knows exactly what he needs to set up his kingdom and has given each Israelite some type of talent that can be put toward the nation’s construction. Today each Christian has a gift that we ought to be using to build up the body of Christ. No one gift is more important than any other. Best way to find out what your gift is? Think about what you’re good at and what you like to do. Pray for God to show you your gift, and seek out and be open to new opportunities to serve. I had no idea when I first began taking classes at Moody that God would eventually allow me to teach Sunday School. I knew I loved to learn (and talk) but hadn’t thought of being a teacher until the opportunity fell into my lap. I haven’t looked back since.
Aaron’s ephod: The ephod was similar to an apron. It was to be made of “gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen…” (28:6). It is something that can be fastened, and has a waistband that are made of the similar materials. On the shoulders of the ephod there are to be two onyx stones that bear the names of the twelve tribes, six names per stone, symbolizing that Aaron will bear the weight of the nation on his shoulders.
The breastpiece: The breastpiece is for “making decisions” (28:15). It is made in a similar fashion to the ephod. It is to be square and doubly folded. Four rows of precious stones will be mounted on the breastpiece: A row of carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; a row of turquoise, lapis lazuli (remember that beautiful blue stone?) and emerald; the third row comprised of jacinth, agate and amethyst;and the final row made of topaz, onyx and jasper. This makes for a total of twelve stones, and each should bear the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The breastplate also includes braided chains of pure gold that attach it to the ephod. Aaron is to wear this whenever he enters the Holy Place. He is also to wear the Urim and Thummim in the breastpiece. The Urim and Thummim were gemstones that the priest used to guide his decision making. Some scholars believe that God would cause the Urim (curses) and Thummim (perfections) to light up in a specific pattern or illuminate in some other way in order for the priest to know God’s decision on a given subject. Other scholars suggest that the gems were engraved with words that could be used in decision making, such as “yes/no” and/or “true/false”. Supposedly they were kept in a pouch and when needed, were removed or shaken from out of the pouch. However they fell was taken to be God’s decision. The Bible is not entirely clear on this. Regardless, God wants to make sure that the stones are over Aaron’s heart when he enters the Holy Place, definitely symbolic of the deep commitment Aaron was to have as he faithfully presided over the spiritual needs of the Israelites. Aaron would have to have a totally selfless attitude in his role, hence their names being over his heart.
Other priestly garments are then described–the robe of the ephod with gold bells that will announce him as he comes and goes from the Holy Place and pomegranates; and a gold plate engraved with “Holy to the Lord” that comprises the front of the turban that Aaron is to wear on his head, symbolizing the guilt he will bear as he performs offerings and sacrifices on behalf of the nation. These items are to be made of fine linen. Aaron’s sons are to receive tunics, sashes and caps. After these garments are put on Aaron and Co., they are to be anointed and ordained. In the Old Testament, anointing was done with oil. God provides the instructions for this special oil right after these messages. Chapter 28 concludes with God telling Moses that Aaron and his sons must have linen undergarments so that their private parts are appropriately covered (sounds kind of common-sense doesn’t it? Makes me wonder if there are people today who go to church sans bloomers. Kind of odd).
Twenty-nine begins with consecration instructions for the priests. Consecration is a formal dedication to service. To be consecrated means “to be set aside”. Like Aaron and the priests, we today who claim to be Christians have been set aside and set apart from the world so that we may glorify God and build his kingdom. Thank God for that! Ordination is the process of publicly recognizing one’s call to a particular ministry or duty within the church and formally assigning the duties associated with that office to the person. Reverends are ordained, as are deacons and other officers in churches today. I fondly remembered when my husband was ordained to be a deacon. I was so proud of him. (I still am).
This consecration for Aaron and sons includes sacrifices. God instructs Moses to secure a young bull and two rams without defect, as well as loaves of bread, made of the finest wheat flour and brushed with oil (yum. I think it’s snacktime-I’m over here picturing sandwiches.SMH). Aaron and sons are to be brought to the entrance at the tent of meeting, washed with water, and dressed in their priestly garments. Then the ordination is to begin. The bull is sacrificed first, with Aaron and sons placing their hands on its head (to symbolize transferring of sins and their identification with the animal as being the substitute for the human). Some of the blood is put on the altar’s horns; the rest goes into bowls. The bull is the sin offering. Then one of the rams is sacrificed and burnt in its entirety on the altar as a burnt offering. Next is the final ram. After it is dispatched, some of its blood is to be put on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and Co., as well as their right thumbs and right big toes. Some of the blood is to be splashed against the sides of the altar, and some of the blood from the altar are to be sprinkled on Aaron and his sons and their garments in addition to some of the anointing oil. That would complete the consecration of Aaron and his sons and their garments.
Interesting to note the role of the blood here. Blood has always been symbolic of saving power in the Bible. It is the blood that identifies us to God. We as Christians today are covered by the precious blood of Jesus. The blood of animals was used to atone for sins. Thanks to Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, that system has been cancelled.
Further instructions are given for a wave offering (this is where the bread comes in). God says that the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented from the animals will be a perpetual share for Aaron and sons from the Israelites. In return for their hard work, the nation was expected to take care of the priests. As it should have been–they had a very important job. They didn’t need to have any other focus. Aaron’s sacred garments are to be preserved and handed down from generation to generation in order that the descendant who succeeds him will be consecrated and ordained in the garments as well.
God also says that Aaron and his sons are to eat the ordination ram at the entrance to the tent of meeting as well as the bread that is in the basket (from the wave offering). No one else can eat these items. None of the leftover meat can be eaten the next day. The ordination lasts seven days. Each day, a bull is to be sacrificed as a sin offering to make atonement. Atonement must be made for the altar as well, and it must be anointed and consecrated over seven days. God provides instructions as to what is to be sacrificed at the altar daily: two year-old lambs, one in the morning and one at twilight, along with a mixture of flour and oil. Two units of measurement are expressed in these Scriptures: An ephah is the equivalent of approximately one bushel and is used to measure dry goods, and a hin is about five liters of liquid material.
God closes chapter 29 with the following:
“For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the tent of meeting, before the Lord. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also will I meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated to my glory. So I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God” (29:42-46).
There is still more business to handle. In Chapter 30 God turns to the altar of incense. It is to be made of acacia wood, square with horns and gold overlay and moldings. Aaron is required to burn fragrant incense on this altar each morning when he tends to the lamps. He is also to burn incense when he lights the lamps at twilight–the incense is to burn regularly before the Lord for generations to come. This altar is specifically for the very particular incense required by God–no other incense, no other offerings may be done on this altar. Once a year Aaron is to make atonement for the sins of the nation on the horns on this altar.
The concept of atonement money is discussed next. Moses is to take a census of the Israelites. When he does, each of them that is twenty years of age and older is to pay the Lord a ransom for his life in the amount of a half shekel. What is notable about this is that everyone, despite their financial status, was required to pay–there were no exemptions here. This is highly symbolic of the ransom we all must pay for our sins. It is a debt that cannot be paid any other way but through the redeeming blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The money collected is to be used for the service of the tent of meeting.
Instructions are given for the basin that will be used for washing, the anointing oil, and the incense. The basin is to be made of bronze. My assumption for why bronze was often used for surfaces that would see a lot of liquid (the utensils, etc.) is because bronze ‘s resistance to water corrosion. Anyhoo, the basin is to be placed between the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron and sons are to wash their hands and feet with water before they enter the tent of meeting and before they approach the altar to minister or present a food offering to the Lord. As for the oil that will be used to anoint Aaron and his sons, God has a special recipe that includes liquid myrrh, cinnamon, calamus, cassia and olive oil. It will also be used to anoint the tent of meeting, the ark of the covenant law, the table and all its articles, the lampstand and its accessories, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering and its utensils, and the basin and its stand. This special oil can be used for no other purposes. The same goes for the incense–it is made of gum resin, onycha, galbanum,and pure frankincense. It is in these passages that God mentions the work being done by a perfumer. He has given the Israelites special wisdom to accomplish his plan, just as he has given those of us within the body of Christ.
Finally, we get to chapter 31. I like this beginning passage of Scripture because it again confirms that God gives individuals particular skills and abilities that are to be used to bring glory to his name:
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills–to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you…” (31:1-6)
I like that God chose people from different tribes. Although there were twelve tribes and certainly God could have selected individuals from the same tribe, Israel was still supposed to work together and use their collective gifts for the betterment of the entire nation. I think about my experience working in groups, and how although for some it may have been more comfortable to work in a group with members of similar backgrounds, I had the best experiences and results in groups where the members came from different walks of life and brought their diverse life experiences to the table. Although group work sometimes became tedious, I now value every minute of it. It may be a small gesture, but the oneness of Israel despite its large number and twelve tribes is still important. They have goals to accomplish and must lean on each other. The same can be said for the church today. If a member of the body of Christ is out of order, then the remaining members of the body will undoubtedly experience some dysfunction. Just as the Israelites had to work together effectively–in order to build such an elaborate, detailed structure they had to have good communication skills and respect each other’s talents and contributions–the same goes for Christians today. Our problem is that some of us get puffed up and don’t want to be relegated to a “small” role that may go unnoticed. It is not good enough to sing in the choir–we want to be the soloist. It is not good enough to preach the Gospel message of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection–we have to add a lot of whooping and hollering to it (and I am by no means knocking preachers who truly get into the Spirit. I am knocking those who do it simply for the aspect of crowd participation and adulation. We’re talking about church, not a Public Enemy concert, and the preacher is supposed to be a preacher called by God, not a hype man like Flavor Flav (and I am not knocking them either, as I was a Public Enemy fan back in the day)). What we have to remember as Christians is that we ought not covet anyone else’s gift–we need to appreciate, develop and utilize our own. They are ALL important. If a gift wasn’t necessary God would not have made it so.
Attention returns to the Sabbath. God reminds Moses that it is a holy day. Now the exchange is finished, and Moses receives the two stone tablets of the covenant law, inscribed by the very finger of God. How powerful!!!!
So how might the finished product have looked, based on these descriptions? I am wary of using pictures of any sort without providing a huge disclaimer–the pictures I use are one person’s interpretation of what they have read. I post ones I think best fit the Scriptures, or at least give a good general idea of what these items may have looked like.
Replica of how the cherubim may have looked
In later chapters God gives instructions as to how the Israelites are to camp around the tabernacle. I like this depiction of how that may have looked.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, some of the details got redundant. But when you look at the finished product, you can see what God was doing. As it always is with God, there is a reason behind everything. The curtains were to be made to protect the sacred rituals that would go on behind them. The materials chosen had purpose–the acacia wood for its strength, for example. The design of Aaron’s garments, so that he would be a constant memorial of the twelve tribes in the presence of the Lord. The tabernacle was portable, signifying God’s dedication and loyalty to Israel–He was going to be with them and guide them everywhere they went. He gave the Israelites special wisdom and skilled workers–they had everyone they needed to the work done. It is also interesting to me that more than likely some of the goods used to make this tabernacle were items they had received from the Egyptians when they left (remember the Egyptians were all too happy to have the Israelites leave after the death of the firstborn, and gave the Israelites plenty of “parting gifts”). So some of the materials from the idol-worshiping Egyptians had probably been put to good use for God.
Unfortunately God’s desire to live and dwell among the Israelites is immediately betrayed in the next chapter, when they inexplicably decide a man-made golden calf is due the honor that only God should receive.
I pray you have a blessed day, and disregard the text under here–I am having issues with my computer 🙂
ay you have a blessed day! to guide the building of a lampstand of pure gold–God even goes so far as to specify the number of cups, buds and blossoms that will adorn the lampstand. Naturally, the lampstand will hold the lamps, of which there are seven.