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Highlights From Bible Reading ‒ Exodus 27-29
Why were olive trees particularly appreciated in Bible times?
▪ Olive trees and vineyards were among the blessings that God promised his people for their faithfulness to him. (Deuteronomy 6:10, 11) To this day, the olive tree is highly esteemed in areas in which it grows. It can produce abundant fruit for hundreds of years with relatively little care. A cultivated tree can flourish even in rocky soil and can endure frequent droughts. If the tree is felled, the rootstock produces several shoots that can develop into new trunks.
In Bible times, the bark and leaves of the tree were valued for their fever-reducing properties. The gum resin that seeps from old branches and has a vanilla scent was used to make perfume. Primarily, however, the tree was prized as a source of food—its berries and especially its oil. The pulp of a ripe olive is about half oil.
One good tree could yield as much as 15 gallons (57 L) of oil a year. Olive oil was also used as lamp fuel, for ceremonial and religious purposes, as a cosmetic for the body and hair, and as a medicine to soften wounds and soothe bruises.—Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 2:1-7; 8:1-12; Ruth 3:3; Luke 10:33, 34.
5 Jehovah made other provisions to care for the spiritual needs of his people. Even before they arrived in the Promised Land, he commanded them to build the tabernacle, the center of true worship. He also set up a priesthood to teach the Law, to offer animal sacrifices, and to burn the morning and evening incense. God installed Moses’ older brother, Aaron, as Israel’s first high priest and appointed Aaron’s sons to assist their father with his duties.—Exodus 28:1; Numbers 3:10; 2 Chronicles 13:10, 11.
6 Our heart will not naturally veer toward chastity. We must steer it that way. One way to do so is to contemplate the true value of chastity. This quality is closely related to holiness, which signifies cleanness, purity, separation from sinfulness. Holiness is a precious quality that is part of the very nature of Jehovah God. Hundreds of Bible verses associate that quality with Jehovah. In fact, the Bible says that “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” (Exodus 28:36) What, though, does that lofty quality have to do with us imperfect humans?
7 In his Word, Jehovah tells us: “You must be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:16) Yes, we can imitate Jehovah’s holiness; we can be clean before him, maintaining our chastity. So when we refrain from unclean, defiling acts, we are reaching out for a lofty, thrilling privilege—that of reflecting a beautiful trait of the Most High God! (Ephesians 5:1) We should not assume that it is out of our reach to do so, for Jehovah is a wise and reasonable Master who never demands more of us than we are able to do. (Psalm 103:13, 14; James 3:17) Granted, remaining spiritually and morally chaste requires effort. The apostle Paul noted, though, that “sincerity and . . . chastity . . . are due the Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:3) Do we not owe it to Christ and to his Father to make every effort to keep morally chaste? After all, they have shown us more love than we can ever begin to repay. (John 3:16; 15:13) It is a privilege for us to express our gratitude by living a clean, moral life. By thinking of our chastity in this way, we will value it, safeguarding our heart.
Exodus 28:36, 37
2 In Biblical Hebrew, the word “holy” conveys the thought of separateness. In worship, “holy” applies to that which is separated from common use, or held sacred. Jehovah is holy in the absolute sense. He is called “the Most Holy One.” (Proverbs 9:10; 30:3) In ancient Israel, the high priest wore fastened to his turban a gold plate engraved with the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” (Exodus 28:36, 37) Heavenly cherubs and seraphs stationed about Jehovah’s throne are depicted in the Scriptures as proclaiming: “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah.” (Isaiah 6:2, 3; Revelation 4:6-8) This repetition emphasizes that Jehovah is holy, clean, and pure to the superlative degree. He is, in fact, the Source of all holiness.
3 Jehovah’s name is sacred, or holy. The psalmist exclaimed: “Let them laud your name. Great and fear-inspiring, holy it is.” (Psalm 99:3) Jesus taught us to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified [or, “be held sacred; be treated as holy,” footnote].” (Matthew 6:9) Jesus’ earthly mother, Mary, proclaimed: “My soul magnifies Jehovah . . . the powerful One has done great deeds for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46, 49) As servants of Jehovah, we hold his name as something holy and avoid doing anything that might bring reproach upon that holy name. Furthermore, we share Jehovah’s view of sacredness, that is, we consider sacred the things that he holds sacred.—Amos 5:14, 15.
11 Could Jehovah simply have forgiven Adam and Eve? Forgiveness was never an option in this case. As perfect humans, Adam and Eve made a deliberate choice to reject Jehovah’s sovereignty and to accept the guidance of Satan instead. Not surprisingly, there was no sign of repentance on the part of the rebels. However, when people ask about forgiveness in the matter, they may actually be wondering why Jehovah did not simply lower his standard and tolerate the existence of sin and rebellion. The answer involves a quality that is essential to Jehovah’s very nature—his holiness.—Exodus 28:36; 39:30.
12 The Bible emphasizes Jehovah’s holiness hundreds of times. Sadly, though, few people in this corrupt world understand that quality. Jehovah is clean, pure, and separate from all sinfulness. (Isaiah 6:3; 59:2) When it comes to sin, he has arranged for a means of atoning for it, wiping it away, but he will not tolerate it forever. If Jehovah were willing to tolerate sin eternally, we would have no hope for the future. (Proverbs 14:12) In his due time, Jehovah will bring all creation back into a state of holiness. That is certain, for it is the will of the Holy One.
Garments of Office. Besides wearing linen garments similar to those of the underpriests in his usual activities (Le 16:4), the high priest wore special garments of glory and beauty on certain occasions. Exodus chapters 28 and 39 describe both the design and the making of these garments under the direction of Moses as commanded by God. The innermost garment (except for the linen drawers reaching “from the hips and to the thighs,” worn by all the priests “to cover the naked flesh”; Ex 28:42) was the robe (Heb., kut•to′neth), made of fine (probably white) linen of checkerwork weave. This robe apparently had long sleeves and reached down to the ankles. It was likely woven in one piece. A sash of fine twisted linen woven with blue, reddish purple, and coccus scarlet thread went around the body, probably above the waist.—Ex 28:39; 39:29.
The turban, evidently different from the headdress of the underpriests, was also of fine linen. (Ex 28:39) Fastened to the forefront of the turban was a shining plate of pure gold with the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah” engraved on it. (Ex 28:36) This plate was called “the holy sign of dedication.”—Ex 29:6; 39:30.
Ex. 28:42, 43
Displaying Dignity in Worship
17 Special attention should be given to displaying dignity when we approach Jehovah in worship. “Guard your feet whenever you go to the house of the true God,” says Ecclesiastes 5:1. Both Moses and Joshua were commanded to remove their sandals when in a holy place. (Ex. 3:5; Josh. 5:15) They were to do this as a gesture of respect or reverence. Israelite priests were obliged to wear linen drawers “to cover the naked flesh.” (Ex. 28:42, 43) This prevented indecent exposure when they served at the altar. Every member of a priest’s family was to uphold the godly standard of dignity.
2 Of course, the Jewish shepherds know that “Messiah,” or “Christ,” refers to God’s “Anointed One.” (Ex. 29:5-7) But how can they learn more and convince others that the baby mentioned by the angel will be Jehovah’s appointed Messiah? By examining prophecies found in the Hebrew Scriptures and comparing these with the activities and life course of this child.
2 However, what does “dedication” mean in the Biblical sense? “Dedicate” translates a Hebrew verb that has the meaning “keep separate; be separated; withdraw.” In ancient Israel, High Priest Aaron wore on his turban “the holy sign of dedication,” which was a shining plate of pure gold engraved with the Hebrew words for “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” That served as a reminder to the high priest that he must avoid doing anything that would profane the sanctuary “because the sign of dedication, the anointing oil of his God, [was] upon him.”—Exodus 29:6; 39:30; Leviticus 21:12.
14 Jesus is “the Lamb of God.” (John 1:29, 36) Throughout the Bible, sheep played a notable role in the remission of sin and approach to God. For instance, after Abraham had demonstrated that he was willing to offer his son Isaac, he was told not to harm Isaac and was provided with a ram, or male sheep, as a substitute. (Gen. 22:12, 13) When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, sheep again played a significant role, this time as part of “Jehovah’s passover.” (Ex. 12:1-13) Further, the Mosaic Law provided for the sacrifice of various animals, including sheep and goats.—Ex. 29:38-42; Lev. 5:6, 7.
15 None of those sacrifices—in fact, no sacrifice offered by humans—could bring permanent release from sin and death. (Heb. 10:1-4) Jesus, on the other hand, is “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” This fact alone makes Jesus a treasure that outranks any material treasure that has ever been found. Therefore, we do well to take time to study the subject of the ransom carefully and exercise faith in that marvelous provision. By doing so, we put ourselves in line for a grand blessing and reward—glory and honor with Christ in heaven for the “little flock” and everlasting life in Paradise on earth for the “other sheep.”—Luke 12:32; John 6:40, 47; 10:16.
References consulted on: Watchtower Library 2013
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