February 16, 2015

Wood = enduring, Oil = expensive, Bread of life = priceless

When it was time to build the tabernacle, “Everyone who could make a contribution of silver or bronze brought it as the Lord’s contribution. And every one who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it.” (Exodus 35:24)

The following items were made of acacia wood: the ark and its poles, the table of showbread and its poles, the brazen altar and its poles, and the incense altar and its poles, all the poles for the hanging of the curtains as well as the supports. In short, all the structural features of the tabernacle were constructed of acacia wood. For the most part, this wood was covered with gold, silver or bronze.

All the gold used for the work in the construction of the sanctuary was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels. The silver given by the congregation was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels . . .  about half a shekel for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward; 603,550 men. The hundred talents of silver were for casting the bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base. The 1,775 shekels were made into hooks for the pillars, their capitals and fillets. The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels. It was used for the bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting, the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, the bases around the court, and the bases of the gate of the court, all the pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court. (Exodus 38:24–31)

Acacia wood made me curious. Why this wood? Apparently some have tried to attach a spiritual power to it, but the Bible says nothing like that. Acacia was simply the main tree available during the wilderness journey. However, God knew. He provided a tree with wood dense and strong. It was ideal for a structure that would endure for generations. Even though it was not plainly visible, this wood was a valuable and important part of this place of worship.

The next reading also points to a valuable part of worship. The Song of Solomon is a love poem, yet it points to the love of Christ for His bride and the love of the church for her Groom, with myrrh as an expression of that love . . .

I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, friends, drink, and be drunk with love!  . . . I arose to open to my beloved, and my hands dripped with myrrh, my fingers with liquid myrrh, on the handles of the bolt. (Song of Solomon 5:1, 5)

Oil of myrrh is fragrant and was often used for burials. It symbolized death, and suggests the greatest expression of the love of God — His death for our sin. A mixture of wine and myrrh was offered to Jesus during his crucifixion. This oil is extremely symbolic, even to the price of it. Today, pure oil of myrrh is nearly $10 for a mere teaspoon.

The cost of our salvation was not in dollars, but in the precious blood of Jesus Christ. It is not a huge leap for me to link the enduring qualities of acacia wood to eternal life, nor the oil of myrrh to the death that secured it.

In the NT reading, Jesus tells it like it is to the crowds that followed Him after He fed them with five loaves and two fishes. He said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:26–29)

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out . . . I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:35-37, 51)

Jesus could have said He was like the precious oil of myrrh, but instead He compared Himself to the ordinary staff of life, bread; bread that everyone needs, bread that everyone can afford. But He did talk about everlasting life and about giving His life so we could have that life that will endure forever.

From these verses, I’m thinking that of that expensive oil — it isn’t really much compared to the priceless Son of God and His priceless gift available to whoever comes to Him asking for it.

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