My parents were more than reasonable with both me and my brother. For the most part, If there was a rule, they too followed it. If something only applied to us, they explained why this was so. Let’s say they didn’t want us watching a “mature content” movie on TV—we were told why. The explanation made sense, and I respect my parents for taking the time to explain. At no point in my childhood do I ever recall my parents asking us to follow what they said, but not what they did. Had they, I would have had trouble following directions because even as a kid I had a nose for hypocrisy.
I also understand going all out for important people. Company is coming over, you break out the good flatware, crystal (if you have it), and quality food. You make sure your best outfit is pressed and ready to go. This conveys your respect for your guest, and most (all?) guests you would have in your home would probably be aware of your means and would not expect you to go above and beyond these means on their behalf.
God, on the other hand, seems to lack such qualms. The end of Exodus chronicles his demands for a plush tent to be erected in his honor—The Tabernacle–as well as the outfits of his priests. He has VERY specific guidelines. And all of them are expensive.
He deserves respect for freeing the Israelites and providing them new land. He even provides provisions along the way—but by no means are they living large. So why demand all of these extravagant accoutrements for his presence? For his house of worship, why be SO exact? He’s acting like he’s trying to impress some ancient producer of MTV’s Cribs.
His blueprints for the main tent structure, its interior curtain, end table, lamp, ark, etc. contain details down to the number of cubits and (for the curtains) number of loops. I’m not sure how anyone could mess up these directions. So why repeat EVERY detail when the actual construction commences? Perhaps since so much of this information in the Bible passed orally, before people could read, people enjoyed hearing all of this more than once. And the attention to detail is quite breath-taking in the image it created. You can almost imagine the elaborate accommodations with the level of detail provided.
Still, the attention to detail signals a bit of an OCD issue. Did he really need to dictate the priests’ underwear? Sure, it’s interesting to see just how far boxers (or boxer briefs, take your pick) go back, but linen underwear? I’m not sure what other fabrics were around, but I can’t imagine this being comfortable. Do you really want a priest to be constantly scratching himself?
If this final section of Exodus were a house building show, God would be the NIGHTMARE client you could never please. The cynical side of me reads this part of Exodus as justification for spending money worshipers didn’t have in order for the organizers to construct an extravagant display of wealth. This is even stranger when the laws included with the commandments speak against materialism (20:23). Basically, he’s telling his followers to do as he says and not follow what he does. This is another detail thus far that tells me it was written as opposed to taken down—these details serve a person’s agenda.
Though maybe this is one of those things in the Bible conservative-minded people like Rush Limbaugh—with his (at the very least, painted) gold microphone—see as applying to the common people, not the leaders. But why wouldn’t it apply to everyone? This also doesn’t mesh with my impression of Jesus and his humble way of living—helping the poor, etc. Perhaps God changes his mind by the time of the New Testament?