Ki Tissa (when you take) Ex. 30:11-34:35

Ki Tissa has a strange beginning. Check this out:
1. Census regulations Ex: 30:11-16
2. Brazen laver instructions 17-21
3. Recipe for anointing oil 22-33
4. Recipe for incense and election of overseers 34-38; 31:1-11
5. Sabbath regulations 12-17

Then, God is done speaking; he inscribes the tablets, and that’s that (18). The text moves from that right to the golden calf incident. Maybe the beginning is just an arbitrary collection of information, but I did find one organizing principle, one thing all of these had in common: the death penalty.
1. Conducting the census without the redemption tax = death.
2. A priest failing to wash when he enters the tent of meeting = death.
3. Making or using the anointing oil in an unauthorized way = death.
4. Making or using the incense for one’s own use = death.
5. Profaning the sabbath = death.

Yikes. In this same passage, God tells Moses he is “merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth…”(Ex 34:6). Grace, mercy, and compassion provide the half-shekel, the brazen laver, the right use of the oil, the right use of the incense, and the right use of the sabbath. Grace makes a way to have a relationship with God and not die.

I’m trying to end this on a positive note, but I can’t get out of my head the idea that God means business. He is serious. Holiness, when it is mishandled, is deadly. I need to remember that.


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