Exodus 25-31, The Tabernacle

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Sep 24, 2002.

  1. Helen

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    Aug 29, 2001
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    To many people, the chapters describing what is to be done for the construction of the Tabernacle is boring. There are a lot of studies which detail the symbolism for each thing. What I will do is link some and then simply outline, very briefly, some interesting points in each of these chapters. What should be remembered, though, is that the Tabernacle was to be constructed in a specific way because it is an accurate shadow of the reality in heaven. We can’t understand what that really means yet, but we can trust that God’s instructions were important so that we could understand as much as possible.

    With that in mind, here are some links with some interesting sites:

    http://campus.houghton.edu/depts/rel-phil/schultzweb/furniture.htm -- this is not long, PLEASE read it first

    http://www.inforamp.net/~mdcanada/tabern.htm -- excellent site

    http://www.domini.org/tabern/tabhome.htm -- a widely-referred to site

    Chapter 25
    Offerings for the Tabernacle:
    the Israelite men were to be informed of the need for offerings and those whose hearts prompted them would give. The list of needed items was made public and the rest was left up to the Lord and the men. No promises of great returns for their ‘investments’; no special pardons for sins; no list of donors on the door. Just give from the list as the heart prompted. That was not only enough, but as we will see later, it was more than enough.
    In verse 8 we read,
    Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

    The Ark
    This is the Ark of the Covenant (or Testimony). It will be overlaid with gold and later contain some specified items.
    In verse 22 we read,
    There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

    The Table
    The table is also to be overlaid with gold, and the dishes on it to be made of pure gold.
    In verse 30 we read,
    Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.

    The Lampstand
    Directions for this pure gold item are very specific regarding its carving and lamps. Even the wick trimmers and trays were to be of pure gold.
    In verse 40 we read,
    See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.

    Chapter 26
    The Tabernacle

    EXACT measurements, materials, colors, and construction are detailed here.
    Verses 30-33 should be noted:
    Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.
    Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

    Although the temple that stood in Jerusalem was different from the Tabernacle of so many years before, there was still a Holy Place and a Most Holy Place, and when Jesus was crucified, the curtain separating the two was ripped open, top to bottom.

    Chapter 27
    The Altar of Burnt Offering

    It is to be completely overlaid with bronze.
    In verse 8 we read,
    Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.

    The Courtyard
    The courtyard would measure about 150 feet by about 75 feet.
    In verse 19, we read
    All the other articles used in the service of the tabernacle, whatever their function, including all the tent pegs for it and those for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.

    Oil for the Lampstand
    The entire command is in the two verses that follow:
    Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the Lord from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.

    Chapter 28
    The Priestly Garments

    Why was Aaron to be given special garments? Verse 2 tells us, to give him dignity and honor. It should be noted that this is the exact reason some churches have priestly vestments today.

    If one carefully reads about these vestments made for Aaron, one will see that he is, in his function of High Priest, representing a type of Christ.
    1. The names of the tribes will be on his shoulders. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the Lord. (v. 12)
    2. Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord. Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron’s heart whenever he enters the presence of the Lord. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord. (vv 29-30)
    3. Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: Holy to the Lord. Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. It will be on Aaron ‘s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord. (vv36-38

    Aaron was to bear the guilt. He was to be special before the Lord and capable of carrying out administrative duties and legislative duties – ruling and making judgments. In these ways, He was what we call a “type” of Christ in these matters.

    Chapter 29
    Consecration of the Priests

    This involved a number of sacrifices, and was very detailed.
    In verses 44-46, we read, So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.

    And THERE is the reason He rescued them from Egypt. So He might dwell among them. Many, many times in the Bible we read that Israel is the Lord’s inheritance; His people.

    Chapter 30
    The Altar of Incense

    This special altar was for incense only. And only the incense with the ingredients the Lord would specify. Anything else was forbidden. The ONLY other thing which was to touch this altar was atonement blood offered by Aaron once a year.

    Atonement Money
    Although it does not specify men only in this census, the pronouns used to refer to those counted are masculine. In the second census, as listed in Numbers 26, we see the Lord’s words to Moses: “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by families – all those twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army of Israel.” Moses then relays the order in verse 4: “Take a census of the men twenty years old or more…”

    So we can presume the census is only of men as we see the phrase “those twenty years old or more” as delineating the first census. These men were each to buy their lives with a half shekel offering to the Lord, no more and no less. A half shekel would have been about 1/5 of an ounce of silver.

    The reason? In verse 16 we read, It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord, making atonement for your lives.

    Basin for Washing
    The basin was to be of bronze, with a bronze stand. It was for ceremonial washing of the hands and feet before the Lord. Whenever they [Aaron and his sons] enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting an offering made to the Lord by fire, they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. (verses 20-21a)

    Anointing Oil
    Here the Lord gives HIS particular formula for the sacred anointing oil. The Tent of Meeting, the ark of the Testimony and all the furnishing are to be anointed with this oil. “You shall consecrate them so they will be most holy, and whatever touches them will be holy.

    Several years ago a deaf friend asked me about the meaning of the word ‘holy.’ When asked a question like this, I try not to answer too quickly but start with a couple of Concordances and see how the Bible uses it all the way through. “Holy” would have taken too long for ALL of that, but I did check quite a few references. One of them was the verse above about “whatever touches them will be holy.” Essentially, holy means ‘of God’ or ‘belonging to God.’ And it was interesting that any THING that touched the consecrated altar or furnishings would then become holy, or belonging to God. However not for people. People had to become holy through their relationship with God. It was an interesting difference. People who touched what was holy who did not have the right to touch it, or were not properly prepared, were struck down by God. The people could desecrate the holy things; the holy things could not make the people holy! The only way a person could become holy was in a relationship with God.

    Going back to the passage itself in Exodus, God then says that this oil may not be used for anything else and the formula may not be used by anyone else for any other use. ”Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people.”

    The incense, also, had a special formula which was not to be duplicated, and the incense itself was only to be used as specified. ”It is to be salted and pure and sacred.”

    Chapter 31
    Bezalel and Oholiab

    God did not order Moses to have something made without giving him the men who had the necessary skills. Bezalel and Oholiab are mentioned by name here by the Lord as two exceptionally skilled craftsmen. And God tells Moses, “Also I have given skill to all the craftsmen to make everything I have commanded you.”

    This is something we also need to remember. God will not ask us to do something or have something done without also supplying the means by which to get it done.

    The Sabbath
    In closing the directions He gives to Moses, the Lord again emphasizes the Sabbath. Here is the full text, taken from the New International Version, of what the Lord told Moses.

    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.
    ‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people. For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death. The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant. It will be a sign between me and the Israelites forever, for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested.’”

    There are some remarkable things there:
    1. The LORD makes a man holy. It is nothing a man can do for himself.
    2. There is the death penalty for working on the Sabbath or desecrating it.
    3. To be ‘cut off from his people’ appears to be a synonym for the death penalty here.
    4. The six day creation followed by a day of rest is again mentioned, emphasizing its importance by saying it is the reason for the holy Sabbaths.

    Why the fierce penalty for the Sabbath breaker? In its position in the Ten Commandments, the commandment regarding the Sabbath is in between the commandments dealing with man’s relationship to God and those dealing with man’s relationship to other men. Thus it is the ‘bridge’ commandment. Jesus, the Lord of the Sabbath, is also the bridge between God and man. The importance of keeping the Sabbath lay in the holy picture it presented of Christ Himself – holy rest for those who had struggled and finally turned to Him. To desecrate the Sabbath was then to desecrate the very picture of Christ! The first three Commandments are wrapped up in “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength.” The last six commandments are wrapped up in “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Only the fourth commandment regarding the Sabbath is NOT based that clearly on the Two Commandments Jesus gave. That is because Jesus Himself, in fulfilling the Law as well as by virtue of His deity, IS the Fourth Commandment. He IS the Lord of the Sabbath, and it is only in HIM that we truly are at rest and made holy by God. The Commandment regarding the Sabbath is the only one that is further explained in the New Testament, expanding it so that not only are we IN the Sabbath when we are in Christ, but Paul also stated clearly that a man could not be judged by which day he kept the Sabbath. We find no other commandment needed explaining and clarifying in light of the Risen Savior.

    The very end of Exodus 31 presents something truly remarkable:

    When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone, INSCRIBED BY THE FINGER OF GOD. (emphasis mine)

    Contrary to popular thought, “these were duplicates of the covenant document, not two sections of the Ten Commandments. One copy belonged to each party of the covenant. Since Israel’s copy was to be laid up in the presence of her God (according to custom), both covenant tablets (God’s and Israel’s) were placed in the ark.” (from the NIV study notes)
  2. Aaron

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    Sep 4, 2000
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    One of the things that stood out to me when studying the construction of the Tabernacle was the prevalence of the number 12.

    I don't buy into numerology, but I thought this interesting.

    Going from memory:
    • Twelve tribes</font>
    • 96 Sockets (8 twelves)</font>
    • 48 Boards (4 twelves)</font>
    • 60 Posts (5 twelves)</font>
    Thinking outside the Tabernacle:</font>
    • Twelve disciples</font>
    • Twelve gates in the Heavenly City</font>
    • Twelve foundations</font>
    • A tree that bore twelve fruits</font>
    • 144,000 (12,000 twelves) saved</font>
    Anyway, I thought it was interesting. An engineer at my factory dabbles in the Grand Unifying Theory. He said he believed (for mathematical reasons) the universe was comprised of twelve dimensions.
    I said I thought he was on the right track, but not for reasons he would mention at a conference. ;)

    BTW, I disagree with your division of the Decalogue and definition of "the Testimony." But I'm not going to argue.
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Oct 10, 2001
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