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  The Great Bible Story #35
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Focus on worship

Jacob Ninan
God asked Moses to carve two tablets of stone and take them to Him on the mountain to replace the ones he had broken. God wrote the Ten Commandments on them again. He proceeded to tell Moses to organise a symbolic system of worship for the people. The tribe of Levi was chosen to be responsible for assisting in all the works related to worship, and Aaron, a Levite, and his children were named as priests. Aaron became the first High Priest of Israel.

People were still living in tents, and they had no permanent buildings yet. As God led them using the pillars of cloud and fire, they had to often pack up and move to a new camp. In order to give the people a concept about worshipping God who is majestic and awesome but without form, unlike the gods they had seen around them, God told Moses to build a tabernacle (a tent where God would stay symbolically) that could be taken apart, moved and assembled again. It was to be at one end of a rectangular place surrounded by a thick curtain tied to supporting poles. The entrance was hidden behind a curtain at the front, and then one entered into an open place called the 'Outer Court' where ordinary people were allowed to come. The first thing they saw was a bronze altar where the priests would offer their sacrifices. Behind this was a 'laver' containing water which the priests used to wash themselves. After this came the entrance to the first portion of the tent called the 'Holy Place'. Only the priests were allowed to enter this place, that too only after washing themselves. The Holy Place had three things in it, a table carrying twelve loaves of bread which would be replaced every day, a golden lampstand with seven spouts which would be burning without break, and a golden altar for burning incense.

Behind this holy place was a 'Most Holy Place' separated with a thick veil. Inside were the 'ark of the testimony' which was a rectangular wooden box covered with gold, and inside it were the two tablets of stone with the Ten Commandments, a pot of manna which would not get spoilt, and (later) Aaron's rod which bloomed. Above this ark was placed a 'mercy seat' made of gold which was as long and wide as the ark, with the form of a cherub made of gold at each end. The 'glory of God' would be seen over the tent as a pillar of cloud or fire. Only the High Priest could enter here, once a year, to bring sacrifices for all the people. The meaning of all this could be seen only after Jesus came.


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