Exodus 25 - The tabernacle
Chapters 25 through 31 record God’s directions for building the Tabernacle. Chapters 35 through 39 tell how these instructions were carried out. But what can all these ancient, complicated construction details show us today?
God's instructions must be followed closely
How the ark should be made…
Exod 25:10 "Make an Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 3 3/4 feet long, 2 1/4 feet wide, and 2 1/4 feet high. 11Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold all around it. 12Cast four rings of gold for it, and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 13Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14Fit the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. 15These carrying poles must never be taken from the rings; they are to be left there permanently. 16When the Ark is finished, place inside it the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you.
17 "Then make the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—out of pure gold. It must be 3 3/4 feet long and 2 1/4 feet wide. 18Then use hammered gold to make two cherubim, and place them at the two ends of the atonement cover. 19Attach the cherubim to each end of the atonement cover, making it all one piece. 20The cherubim will face each other, looking down on the atonement cover with their wings spread out above it. 21Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then put the atonement cover on top of the Ark. 22I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel.
How the ark was actually made…
Exod 37:1 Next Bezalel made the Ark out of acacia wood. It was 3 3/4 feet long, 2 1/4 feet wide, and 2 1/4 feet high. 2It was overlaid with pure gold inside and out, and it had a molding of gold all the way around. 3Four gold rings were fastened to its four feet, two rings at each side. 4Then he made poles from acacia wood and overlaid them with gold. 5He put the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it.
6Then, from pure gold, he made the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement. It was 3 3/4 feet long and 2 1/4 feet wide. 7He made two figures of cherubim out of hammered gold and placed them at the two ends of the atonement cover. 8They were made so they were actually a part of the atonement cover—it was all one piece. 9The cherubim faced each other as they looked down on the atonement cover, and their wings were stretched out above the atonement cover to protect it.
God told Moses in Exod 25 - 28, 30 how to construct the ark. Then Moses tells us in almost the same words how the ark was actually made in Exod 36 - 40. It shows how important it is to obey God's word wholeheartedly and not to deviate from it.
Matthew Henry in his commentary wrote, "It may be thought strange that Moses, when he had recorded so fully instructions given him upon the mount for the making of all these things, should here record as particularly the making of them, when it might have sufficed only to have said, in a few words, that each of these things was made exactly according to the directions before recited. Why then are so many chapters taken up with this narrative, which we are tempted to think needless and tedious? Moses would thus show the great care which he and his workmen took to make every thing exactly according to the pattern shown him in the mount. Thus he teaches us to have respect to all God's commandments, even to every iota and tittle of them."
Do we treat God as something precious in our life?
Exodus 25:10 "Make an Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 3 3/4 feet long, 2 1/4 feet wide, and 2 1/4 feet high. 11Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and put a molding of gold all around it. 12Cast four rings of gold for it, and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 13Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.
The high quality of the precious materials making up the Tabernacle shows God’s greatness and transcendence. It also reminds us that God has to be treated as something precious in our life. Do we give God the very best in our life? Do we give Him the first hour of every day, the first day of every week, the firstfruits of our pay, the first consideration in every decision?
Do we approach God with clean lives?
Exod 26:31 "Across the inside of the Tabernacle hang a special curtain made of fine linen, with cherubim skillfully embroidered into the cloth using blue, purple, and scarlet yarn. 32Hang this inner curtain on gold hooks set into four posts made from acacia wood and overlaid with gold. The posts will fit into silver bases. 33When the inner curtain is in place, put the Ark of the Covenant behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.
The curtain surrounding the Most Holy Place shows God’s moral perfection as symbolized by his separation from the common and unclean. No one is allowed to enter this place. Only the high priest, however, was allowed to enter the holy of holies and then only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. Before he enters the Most Holy Place, the high priest will have to go though a ritual symbolizing the remission of his sins.
Lev 16:2 The Lord said to Moses, "Warn your brother Aaron not to enter the Most Holy Place behind the inner curtain whenever he chooses; the penalty for intrusion is death. For the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—is there, and I myself am present in the cloud over the atonement cover. 3"When Aaron enters the sanctuary area, he must follow these instructions fully. He must first bring a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a whole burnt offering. 4Then he must wash his entire body and put on his linen tunic and the undergarments worn next to his body. He must tie the linen sash around his waist and put the linen turban on his head. These are his sacred garments.
This tells us that we must lead holy lives if we want to approach God and fellowship with Him. The Bible says :
1 John 1:5 This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all. 6 So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness. We are not living in the truth. 7 But if we are living in the light of God’s presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.
It is important to confess all known sins to God. When we approach God in prayer, do not just let it be a time of "requests". Let is also be a time when we call to God to point out our sins and repent of them.
Ps 139:23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. 24 Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
God desires to be with His people
Exod 25:8"I want the people of Israel to build me a sacred residence where I can live among them.
The portable nature of the Tabernacle shows God’s desire to be with his people as they traveled. In the same way, God desires to have His presence with us today.
When Jesus came to this earth, it spoke of God's immense desire to want to be with His people.
John 1:14 So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.
The word "lived" is the same Greek word used to express "tabernacle" in the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In other words, the verse literally meant : "So the Word became human and tabernacled here on earth among us."
Later Jesus would tell His disciples that the Holy Spirit even wants to be living inside us!
John 14:17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
Do you have the same desire to be in God's presence? Are you spending enough time communing with God through the reading of His word and through prayer? Are you spending time enjoying His presence, praising Him, chatting with Him and not just going to Him with a wish-list during prayer?
God was with His people even when they traveled through the wilderness. This symbolized that God wants to be with us even through our bad times. Later, David would be told that God is not One who sits aloof in splendor and not want to be with His people during difficult times.
2 Sam 7:5 "Go and tell my servant David, ‘this is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a temple to live in? 6I have never lived in a temple, from the day I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until now. My home has always been a tent, moving from one place to another. 7And I have never once complained to Israel’s leaders, the shepherds of my people Israel. I have never asked them, "Why haven’t you built me a beautiful cedar temple?"
When we encounter harsh conditions in our life, we usually want to avoid God during this period. Yet God wants to be with us through good times and bad. Are we giving God a chance?