Ornaments

Today’s Passage – Exodus 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18Proverbs 31Psalms 1 – 5 (Jump start on February because it is a short month)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0131 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous post from today’s reading passage – “Stiffnecked,” “Willing Servants,” and “Beaming.”

“4 And when the people heard these evil tidings, they mourned: and no man did put on him his ornaments. 5 For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel, Ye are a stiffnecked people: I will come up into the midst of thee in a moment, and consume thee: therefore now put off thy ornaments from thee, that I may know what to do unto thee. 6 And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by the mount Horeb.” (Exodus 33:4-6)

When considering Exodus 33, it is important that we have an understanding of the overall context. The previous chapter reveals that while Moses was up on Mt. Horeb receiving the Law from God, the Israelites and their newly appointed leader committed a “great sin” (Ex 32:31) by creating a golden god (idol) of their own to worship. The people were naked and they were singing and dancing when Moses discovers them. God was furious and so was Moses, but Moses intercedes for the people and God, in His mercy, does not utterly destroy them. 

In chapter 33, God tells the people that He is sending them to their Land of Canaan as He had promised but instead of going with them, He was going to send an angel. Later on in the chapter, after the people demonstrate contrition and repentance, God reveals to Moses that He will go with them:

“14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. 15 And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. 16 For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.” (Exodus 33:14-16)

My thought for this devotion revolves around the word “ornaments” found three times in vs. 4 – 6. What does the Bible mean by “ornaments?” The Hebrew word (עֶדְיוֹ – ʿăḏî) is a third person masculine noun – literally translated “his ornaments.” Though the dictionary definitions are a little vague, the word definitely has something to do with objects or fine clothing that are used to adorn the body. Probably the best description of what is meant here is the word “jewelry,” though it may mean more than just jewelry. Keeping the idea of jewelry in mind, remember back from the previous chapter that Aaron used some of this gold jewelry (earrings – Ex 32:2 – 4) that the people were wearing to fashion his golden calf. 

In Exodus 33:4 – 6, the people are mourning because of their failure recorded in the previous chapter, and because of their contrition they did not put on their ornaments. In v. 5, God tells Moses to tell all the people to strip off their ornaments. It seems that these ornaments were somehow associated with the pagan idols and false religions that were prevalent back in Egypt, and God wanted them to get rid of any remnant of their old sinful ways prior to their redemption. But what are the people going to do with all of these ornaments? Look at chapter thirty-six:

“4 And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, 5 Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass, 6 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, 7 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, 8 And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, 9 And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate.” (Exodus 35:4-9)

The greek equivalent to the word “ornament” is “kosmos,” which is sometimes translated “world” in the Scripture but also means “ornament, decoration, or adornment.” We see a form of the word used in a similar way in the New Testament:

“9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.” (1 Timothy 2:9-10)

“1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. 3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.” (1 Peter 3:1-4)

These New Testament references are specifically regarding the adorning of women, but in our text from Exodus the removal of ornaments applied to both men and women. It is important for us to be clear, however, there is no New Testament prohibition against wearing jewelry, fancy clothes, or make-up; and there is nothing biblically wrong with styling your hair. Perhaps what we should glean from these passages, both Old Testament and New, is that we should not be emulating the world’s culture, particularly as the culture is progressively become more and more godless. You may recall the “accursed thing” in Joshua 6 & 7 was a “goodly Babylonish garment” that Achan had taken from Jericho. It too was a representation of the fallen world. The Israelites also apparently had gotten their taste for ornaments from their time spent among the pagan culture in Egypt.

The second thing that we can see from these passages is that we should pursue godliness above all things. This world and its godless culture has nothing to offer the people of God. 


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Bob Fenton
Bob Fenton
1 month ago

Amen Pastor.A lot of good meat to chew on in your thought. Like the post.

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