Last night was Bible study. For the last few months, we’ve been making our way through Exodus and last night, we finally got to chapter 30.
Until yesterday, the last time I had read this particular chapter was some time back in the first part of the year with the “Bible in a year” plan I have been working through. Before the study itself though, I skimmed through the chapter so that I could figure out a fitting verse to upload on the church’s social media page. I remember when I was skimming that my eyes danced over the portion of verse 3 where Moses was directed that they should “make for it a molding of gold all around.” “It” in this chapter, of course, referring to the altar of incense for the Tabernacle.
At the time, however, my attention focused in on the fact that Aaron was to burn incense and morning and evening when the lampstand was tended. Which after a short time lead me to Psalm 55:16-17
As for me, I will call upon God.
And the Lord shall save me.
Evening and morning and at noon
I will pray, and cry aloud,
And He shall hear my voice.
So hours passed and eventually it came time to sit down and get back into Exodus chapter 30. Again, the molding jumped out at me. I thought for a moment and quickly flipped back, skimming over the other items of the Tabernacle until I got back to the Ark of the Covenant, or the ark of Testimony. From my skimming, it seemed as though the altar of incense and the ark were the only two items with molding. I knew at that time, that there was something to that similarity, but then was not the time to try and figure it out as I was already starting to fall behind the discussion. So I highlighted molding in both chapter 30 and 25 (where it’s in reference to the ark,) and made a mental note to look into it later when time, (and proximity of the Interlinear and Concordance) allowed.
So the first thing that I did this morning was pull up Bible Gateway and search for “molding.” The results cam quickly as there are only ten instances of that word appearing in the entirety of the Bible, all of which are in the Old Testament, and all of which are within Exodus.
Reading through the ten verses showed me that I was close, but not quite in my first through. I was missing one item for the Tabernacle that had molding on it; the table of Showbread with it’s frame.
So what’s the big deal?
The big deal is the fact that of all the items made for the Tabernacle, only three of them were directed to have molding. Now, everything in the Old Testament foreshadows things to come in the New. In order to make sure that this post doesn’t turn into a tome of its own, however, I will be as brief as I can in going through these three items.
Now we all know about the ark of the Covenant, or the ark of the Testimony. What bears mentioning here is that the cover on it was called the mercy seat. This was constructed of pure gold (symbolizing not only purity obviously, but deity,) and had two cherubs on it, each at one end of the mercy seat.
And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
So there is a clear relationship between what was seen by Mary and what the Israelis had been directed to build. And to make the point even clearer:
And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
So yes, essentially, the mercy seat was a representation of the Throne of God
So then, what’s the deal with the table of Showbread? This was a table that was constructed to hold 12 loaves of bread (think of any reason 12 would stand out?) which would be replaced every Sabbath, but were to constantly be present within the Tabernacle.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
Shouldn’t have to say anything more about that one. So, onto the altar of incense.
Throughout the Bible, both Old and New Testament, incense represents prayers of the saints, the believers.
Let my prayer be set before You as incense,
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lam, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
So here’s where the Interlinear Bible comes into play. I went through and looked up the original Hebrew word for each of the ten occurrences of molding. Each of them were the same original word, zer. (The e is supposed to have a tilde above it, but without swapping to the international keyboard, it doesn’t seem that I can get that specific accent.) Anyway, by looking up the number associated with it in the concordance, you get this bit of information:
a chaplet (as spread around the top), i.e. specifically a border moulding:- crown.
It’s that last part that really got me. Crown.
Of course God and Jesus have crowns. They are οὗτος. But for the altar of incense to have a crown as well when it has a direct correlation to the believers themselves? Well-
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.
But wait! It’s the holy trinity… not just two and us feeble humans. Aah, but the Holy Spirit is there also-
“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight he shall burn incense on it; a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.
How do you burn incense, but with fire. It’s the fire that represents the presence of the Holy Spirit within these three items. As the Holy Spirit dwells within us, it also is pivotal in our prayer life.
Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
So there you have it. One little word, but with so much impact.