The description of the rite of ordination ends with a brief notice of what the priests are to do at the altar as a “continuous” (tamiyd) daily offering (Exodus 29:38, 42). Verses 38-42 are arranged in a simple chasm:
A. Continuous offering each day, v. 38
B. Morning offering, vv. 39-40
B’. Twilight offering. v. 41
A’. Continuous ascension, where Yahweh meets, v. 42
The A’ section indicates the purpose of the continuous offering: It keeps open the lines of communication between Yahweh and His people. The priests offer a soothing aroma every morning and again every evening, a continuous perfume of the sanctuary, so Yahweh will draw near to meet with and speak to the people. It’s a continuous smoke signal to Yahweh.
The fact that two lambs are offered each day suggests a connection with the day of atonement. On that day, the offering is of goats rather than lambs; and the blood rite is unique, of course. But the daily offering and the Yom Kippur offerings are similar in that both double the offering. The daily offerings form a kind of continuous atonement, so, once again, Yahweh will remain in His house to meet with His people.
Ascensions are offered every morning and evening. The terms are identical to those used in Genesis 1 (boqer ;’ereb), which suggests a creation motif in the continuous ascension offering. At the least, the tabernacle keeps in rhythm with the creation week, marking the beginning and end of each day. More strongly, the continuous offerings maintain creation, as they offer memorials of Yahweh’s promises to preserve and fulfill creation. Intriguingly, the sequence in Exodus 29 is the opposite of that in Genesis 1: “Evening and morning” in the former,” but “morning and evening” in the latter (Exodus 29:39). With the erection of the tabernacle, the clock of the universe gets reset, so that day precedes night.
Each lamb is offered with a tribute offering and a drink offering. Tributes of grain or bread accompany ascension offerings, but this is the first reference to a drink offering (nesek) in Exodus. The only prior use of the term occurs in Genesis 35:14. Jacob returns from the land and goes to Bethel (Genesis 35:1, 6). Yahweh reiterates the Abrahamic promise, and Jacob sets up a pillar of stone and pours a drink offering and oil on it, again naming it Bethel (v. 15). Of course, this is the same “House of God” where Jacob dreamed of a ladder connecting heaven and earth. Jacob offers a drink offering at the time of his return to the house of God. When his journey is over, he, like Noah, is seen with wine, though he doesn’t drink it. Yahweh enters into His Sabbath wine-rest. The tabernacle exists in a state of perpetual Sabbath, with “continuous” drink offerings. It’s an outpost of heaven, which is the place where the future happens first.
The final verses of Exodus 29 are notable as direct speech: “I will meet . . . I will consecrate . . . I will dwell” (Exodus 29:43-36). Yahweh’s dwelling in glory is linked to the consecration of the house. Glory consecrates; when the Lord is present in glory, He claims the place as His own special treasure. Israel is consecrated because He dwells among them in glory; the land is holy for the same reason; the church is a communion of saints because the glory-Spirit dwells in our midst. The priests are consecrated because they are living furnishings of the holy house.
Throughout Exodus, Yahweh acts so people will know He is Yahweh, the God who brought Israel out of Egypt. He brought plagues to Pharaoh to introduce Himself. He led Israel through the sea, and kept them in the wilderness, all to make HIs name known. Now He consecrates the house and the priests so Israel will know that He is Yahweh, the God who makes and keeps promises, the God who takes Israel as His people and gives Himself to Israel as their God.
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