Tuesday, August 28, 2012

XLVIII - Exodus Chapters 25-31 - The Tabernacle

The Tabernacle  Chapter 25  -  31

God has brought His chosen people out of Egyptian bondage.  He has established them as a new nation.  He has given this new nation His covenant, sealed it, and gave the basic laws on which to build the society pleasing to Himself.  This would be a priestly nation, as earlier established.  And so it is not too early to provide for a place for them to worship.  Israel saw the glory of God on Mt. Sinai, but they were not going to stay at the foot of Sinai, but rather they were going to be in transit for a long long time.  So the Lord designed for them a portable place of worship.  Years later Soloman would build a permanent temple in Jerusalem.  Until then, they would have a portable temple in a tent:  A tabernacle.  Wherever they camped the the tabernacle would be set up in the middle.  {This is important:  God's dwelling place was not nor is not limited to any one place, including the tabernacle.  God is everywhere to include the far reaches of outer space.  But God designed the tabernacle in such a way that His presence would be felt there.  And the people could worship and bring to Him their offerings and supplications at this tabernacle and He would accept them as they are brought to Him in the manner He required.  Also, this tabernacle was a reminder of
God's splendor and eliquence.  Our churches should always reflect this in their design.  Much more on that later.}

Within this rather large passage, I am going to reference an comment on a very few choice verses. so it is important to read these chapters so as to get an idea of just how eliquant and beautiful this tabernacle is, and also to be aware of the detail God gives in His instructions on building this tabernacle.  It would be helpful for you to find a sketch of the tabernacle (any search engine will take you to one).  It will clarify some things as only a picture can.
I like the way it started out in chapter 25.  The tabernacle was built with a free-will offering.  (vss 1-9)    God goes on to give Moses instructions on furnishing it with an ark, a table for bread, and a lampstand.  God details how to make and hang the curtains that were to be the roof and walls.  He goes on to the building of the altar, then putting an outer court around the tabernacle.  He gave instructions on the material to be used for everything.  The ark that would be placed inside the Most Holy Place and that would be mostly gold.  Acacia wood is used in the poles, but it is overlaid with gold or another precious metal.  As the taberancle goes outward from the Most Holy Place, there is a little less gold and more silver and bronze used.

After the tabernacle is completed, someone would have to lead in worship and oversee the proceedings, so God chose Aaron and his sons as the first priests.  Their clothing is describe in detail in 28:1-43, then a special ceremony of consecration was appointed (29:1-34).   At this same time the altar was to be didicated (29:35-37) and sacrifices made (29:38-46).

The plans continued on to include an incense altar (30:1-10) and a washing basin (laver) in vss 17-21.  God gives detailed instructions about incenses to be used in the dedicaiton ceremonies (30:22-28).  Chapter 31 tells how God had selected particularly gifted men to be the craftsmen for His tabernacle, and makes a point of reminding them that they are to work six days and then observe the Sabboth.  And finaly in vs 18, God gives to Moses the two tablets containing the Ten Commandments.

That was a quick overview of these chapters, but now let's look at a few verses.

25:1-2  -  Worship is most meaningful when it is voluntary.  God did not want to similate a "tax" on His people to provide for Him a place for worship, but rather ask the people to give as an act of free will.  He lists the materials He wanted to gather, most of which would be what the Egyptians gave to the Israelites when the were ready to leave Egypt. 

25: 8-9  -  The sancuary was built for God to dwell in.  Two important words:  "sancuary" and "dwell"  The word sancuary means a place set apart; a holy place.  The tabernacle was to be a place to remind them that God was with them.  the word "dwell" means that the tabernacle was a dwelling, a house for God, to be respected as such.  I've read somewhere that the tabernacle could be compared with a Hebrew home.  There was a place to wash hands (the laver), a light (lampstand), a table (for shewbread), and an inner, private room.  So since this was to be built as a "home" for God, He told Moses how he wanted it built and gave him a pattern for both the tent and its furnishings.

25:21-22  -  The ark of the covenant would look something like a small gold cedar chest with rings and poles for carrying it.  On top of the chest were two cherubim (angels) facing each other.  {These cherubim didn't look like the beautiful feminine angels or little baby angels as depicted today, but rather they looked like the angels described in Ezekiel chapter 5.  Although we don't know exactly what those cherubim on the ark looked like, many cherubs have been dug up by archeologists.  Often they have the body of one animal and the head of another, and have two or four wings.  The are meant to be fearful and awe-inspiring as one comes into the presence of God.}

The cover of the ark was the "mercy seat", which represented a place where God was present more so than anywhere else.  The ark was placed in the Most Holy Place (Holy of Holies), a section of the Tabernacle in the center.  Only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, and he could only enter once a year on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:2).  On that day the high priest would sprinkle blood on the ark to show repentance of all the Israelites.  {In Romans 3:24-25 Paul campares Jesus to the mercy seat, where people could come for atonement and forgiveness to re-establish fellowship
with God.}

Vss 30-31  -  It says the shewbread must always be on the table.  I always thought this meant that true worshippers were always welcome and God is always in attendance at His proper place.  In verse 31 it mentions the candlestick, which stays lit from evening til morning, suggesting the same thing.
28:29-30  -  Vs 29 says that whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob) over his heart.  God puts much stock in these twelve sons, being the twelve tribes of the nation Israel.  As part of Aaron's priestly garments was a breastplate, onto which 12 different precious stones were set:  Carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, turquoise, alpis lazuli, emerald, jacinth, agate, amethyst, topaz, onyx, and jasper.  This was, among other things, to remind the high priest that he was the representative for all of the people of Israel.  Also placed on the breastplate was an Urim and Thummim.  These were used for making decisions that the high priest was not capable of.  The urim
and Thummim were used to decide "yes or no" or which of two choices.  Them being placed onto the breastplate made the high priest always prepared to have difficult decisions made for him.

In chapter 31 God makes His choice of who is to make all of the tabernacle, tent, garments, bowls, utensils, lampstand, etc.  The main artisan was to be Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah.  What a job he had.  How special this man must have been.  Bezalel was to make these articles
and oversee the helpers.  God chose as Bezalel's helper:  Oholiab from the tribe of Dan.  God empowers them both with the skills required.

And finaly God gives to Moses the tablets containing the Ten Commandments, but not before
God once again emphasizes the observance of the Sabboth.  God continues to empasize and emphasize this.  The Sabboth is no small thing to God.

Next post - The Golden Calf

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