In today’s reading we find that the Israelites are camped out at Mount Sinai after escaping from Egypt. Although the people have been reminded of the promise of inheriting the promised land, they do not immediately proceed to their destination. They need some time to get reacquainted with the God they have forgotten in Egypt. How can they expect to enjoy the promised land without knowing the God who promised it? So as they are living there at the foot of Mount Sinai, they are taught many things about God, and also given specific instructions on ethics and morality. These laws and other regulations were necessary in order to live as citizens in this new nation. I do have to admit though that some of these laws still seem rather strange and even a little barbaric to me. But often faulty judgments are made about God’s character because we are only familiar with our present age and we don’t realize how different things were back then. How easily we forget that these were freshly emancipated slaves who had been steeped in a pagan culture for 400 years. Perhaps God didn’t choose to enact laws that he would have preferred to give them, but laws that he knew they could relate to and obey because of their background.
Another interesting part of today’s reading is the section from chapters 26 to 31, which described all the details of the portable sanctuary called the tabernacle. Again, this is something we have trouble relating to and it quickly becomes boring and irrelevant for average readers. I know this was significant information for the Israelites, and I can easily understand that God’s dwelling place needed to be built according to his exact specifications, but why did he have these details preserved for us? Isn’t all of Scripture supposed to be relevant in every age? It could be possible that there are lessons for us today from those buildings instructions. But I have another theory as to why. The book of Exodus is a unified document that has been preserved for thousands of years. It is a complete book that should never be divided. The whole book is inspired, which means God is the ultimate author who worked through Moses in order to have it written down. When the book was being written, those details regarding the sanctuary could not have been left out since they related to the present situation of the Israelites. So perhaps the reason this information has been preserved is because God did not want his book to be separated into distinct sections, and allow some of those seemingly irrelevant sections to be lost forever. Remember, this is just a theory. Please correct me if you have a better idea.