Exodus 25:1, 2, 8: A Dwelling Place For God

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering.  …And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”
(NKJV)

When we refer to a “dwelling place for God,” we don’t mean that He was confined there, as we are in living in our houses.  In his dedication for the Temple many years later, Solomon put it like this in 2 Chronicles 6:18, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth?  Behold, heaven and the heavens of heaven cannot contain You.  How much less this temple which I have built!”

Yet God said He would “dwell among them.”  The tabernacle was where He manifested His presence in a very limited manner.  Only a very few men ever experienced it.  But that’s where God was to be found.

Israel never fully understood the blessing she had been given in this building and access.  She never really fully understood her relationship to the God who dwelt in this building.  Toward the end of his life, Moses put it like this, “You have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt… – the great trials which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great wonders.  Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day,” Deuteronomy 29:4.

In Deuteronomy 5:29, in response to the people’s assertion, “All that the LORD has said, we will do,” cf. v. 27, God said, “O that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments, that it might be will with them and their children forever!”

Indeed, before Moses was down from the mountain, Israel was carousing in a drunken orgy.  There is never a single indication in the OT that Israel would ever truly obey the LORD.  There would be some, yes, who knew and followed the LORD, but the majority – not so much.  It won’t be until the return of our Lord, whom Israel crucified when He was here the first time, that things will change and Israel will finally understand.  In Zechariah 12:10, God foretold of a time when, He said, “I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced.  Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.”

In the Old Testament, Israel had a national relationship with God.  This was symbolized by the tabernacle, then later by the Temple.  This did not mean, however, that any particular Israelite had a personal relationship with God.  Some did, of course, but as a nation, for the most part, they went their own way and did their own thing.  There were times of great national revival, but there were more times of national apostasy.

As I was considering how to develop this post further, it occurred to me what season is coming upon us.  Christmas is just around the corner.  Ads have already been on TV for several weeks already, as well as Christmas “specials” and programs.  Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph have made their annual appearances.  Yet, there is no more understanding about what this season is supposed to be about than there was with Israel and the tabernacle:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, John 1:1, 14, emphasis added.

I’ve seen a lot about Christmas already, but not a single thing about Christ.  Yet it’s supposed to celebrate His birth.

Perhaps not one in a 1000 really stops to consider who this little baby was.

That little Babe, “asleep in the manger,” was eternal God, who created the heavens and the earth, created, counted, numbered and named all the stars and keeps them going in their appointed rounds, keeps the earth and all that is on it in orbit, and under whose control is the very breath of each and every one of us, Daniel 5:22.  That little Babe, who was the Creator of this planet, breathed its air, drank its water, walked on its dusty pathways.

Like Belshazzar, we have not glorified that One.

This babe, God wrapped in human flesh.

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but have you ever stopped to think that Jesus is the only historical figure who never grows up?  And, yes, I know there are those who deny He ever existed.  But even if He were only a fable – and He IS NOT! – even if He were, He would be thought of as an adult.

This babe did grow up!  But He didn’t grow up to popularity and prestige.  He grew up to be condemned and killed because He didn’t fit the popular concept of who He was supposed to be and what He was supposed to do.

He came to die.

God wrapped in human flesh – on a Cross!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen it, but scenes of the manger ought to have the shadow of a Cross superimposed on them.

He came to do for Israel what she could never do for herself – pay for sin.  He came to do what the tabernacle only pictured.

And He came to do that for you and me, as well.

We’ll have more to say about this in other posts, but for now, consider this babe.  Is He your Savior?  Have you believed on Him for eternal life?  If not, even now, may you receive the gift of God – eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, John 3:15.

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“Taking The Offering”

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:  “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering.  From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.  And this is the offering which you shall take from them:  gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen and goats’ hair; ram skins dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood; oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.  And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”  Exodus 25:1-8 NKJV

This is the second post in the series on the Tabernacle, a building which was central to Israel’s covenant relationship with God from shortly after she was redeemed from Egypt until the reign of Solomon.  The Tabernacle was the second most important building in Israel’s history, surpassed and replaced only by the Temple built by Solomon centuries later and was the focal point of Israel’s relationship with and worship of God.  It was the meeting place between God and man.

Instructions for the Tabernacle and the details of its construction are found in Exodus.

Its importance may be seen in a couple of things.

1. The amount of space devoted to it.

About 50 chapters are given to it, either wholly or in part.

2. Four chapters in Hebrews teach us something of its meaning, especially of the priesthood and sacrifices.  The writer of Hebrews told us that he could have written more about the building itself, Hebrews 9:5, but he was concerned mainly with pointing us to the Lord Jesus and His once and only sacrifice for sins.

In the verses before us, we note –

1. the origin of the plans for the tabernacle, v. 1.
2. the offering of materials for the tabernacle, vs. 2-9.

1. the origin of the plans for the tabernacle, v. 1,
And the LORD spoke to Moses.

Moses didn’t dream this up on his own.  Nor did the LORD ask him for his opinion, his input or any thoughts he might have on the matter.  No, no.  God told him that this was what He wanted him to do.

I think we could learn something from this.  I was privileged to go to Bible College.  I’m thankful for that experience.  Because of it, I’m sitting here, married, writing this post.  Granted, the water has flowed under a lot of bridges since then, but it was a starting place.  The thing is, we studied a lot of books about the Bible, but little from the Bible itself.  Now, I understand the importance of “books” and that men write down their knowledge and wisdom from the Scripture.  After all, that’s what this blog is.  But I pray that it isn’t just about my knowledge or wisdom.  My goal is always to be guided by the question, “What does the Scripture say?” Romans 4:3, emphasis added.

It’s a sad fact that only a small portion of professing Christians faithfully read the Bible.  Granted, there’s a lot there.  And much of it is about times and customs which might be strange, perhaps even repugnant, to us.  Nevertheless.  Let me encourage you.  Read the Bible through, then read it again.  And again.  Even if you only read one chapter a day, that’s one chapter more than many.  And as you read faithfully, it will begin to come together for you.  This doesn’t deny the necessity of the Spirit’s enabling us to understand; He won’t work if there is no effort on our part.  You feed your body every day.  Please, feed your soul.

This brings us to

2. the offering of materials for the tabernacle, vs. 2-9.

First, it was to be a willing offering.

This was not to be compulsory, like the tithe.

Second, it was a designated offering.

Though voluntary, there was only certain things to be offered.

Third, it was a reminder, “My offering.”

That is, not only was it an offering to the Lord; it was a reminder to the Israelite of where he had gotten the items from in the first place.  Cf. David’s prayer as he commissioned his son Solomon to build the Temple.  In 1 Chronicles, and speaking to God, he said,

“Who am I, and who are my people,
That we should be able to offer so willingly as this?

For all things come from You,
And of Your own we have given You.”

That last phrase could be translated, “Of Your own hand we have given You.”  Concerning this idea, Moses commanded Israel, “And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth…,” Deuteronomy 8:18, emphasis added.

Since the tabernacle speaks so eloquently of the person and work of the Lord Jesus, we want to think about how each of these materials might foreshadow Him.

a. gold, silver, bronze, v. 3.

These were very expensive and precious.

I Peter 2:6, 7, Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes in him shall not ashamed.  Therefore, to you who believe, he is precious,” emphases added.  To me, the glory of heaven won’t be the streets of gold or the pearly gates; it will be that the Lord Jesus is there.  His presence will make a hovel glorious.  His absence makes a mansion insignificant.

b. blue, purple and scarlet thread, fine linen and goats’ hair, v. 4.

“Blue” speaks of His heavenly origin.
“Purple” speaks of His royalty.
“Scarlet” speaks of His sacrifice for sins.
“Fine linen” speaks of His righteousness.
“Goats’ hair” speaks of His “ordinariness”.  He wasn’t born in a palace, but in a stable.  He didn’t live among the privileged of His day, but among ordinary folk.  The common people heard Him gladly, Mark 12:37.  Rulers rejected Him.

c. rams’ skin dyed red, badger skins, and acacia wood, v. 5.

“Rams’ skins dyed red” speaks of the shedding of His blood.  Rams were one of the few animals accepted for the Israelite to sacrifice.  For the believer, the Lord Jesus is the only acceptable sacrifice.
“Badger skins” speaks of His permanence.  There’s some discussion about how this word in the original should be translated.  Some might translate it as “dolphin”.  Dolphin skin would be waterproof and would last.  The word might also refer to protection.  Dolphin skin would protect the tabernacle from the rain.  The LORD protects His people so that even death cannot ultimately harm them.
“Acacia Wood” speaks of His indestructibility.  Acacia wood was extremely durable.  After 2000 years of unbelievers and skeptics doing their worst, the Lord Jesus still has those who believe in and follow Him.  If He tarries another 2000 years, He will have those who believe in and follow Him.

d. oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense, v. 6.

Olive oil was used to provide light in the tabernacle.  This speaks to us of the ministry of the Spirit as He shed the light of the Gospel into our hearts and minds, “For it is the God who commanded the light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the fact of Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 4:6.  Without that ministry of the Spirit, for all our religion and learning, we remain in darkness.

Spices were used both in the anointing oil and in sweet incense.  This wasn’t just for the sake of pretty smells, but to cover the odor of death that permeated the area around the bronze altar and that came from the continual application of blood to it.  In fact, it was forbidden to make incense simply to smell it.  Exodus 30:37, 38 says, “But as for the incense you shall make, you shall not make any for yourselves, according to its composition.  It shall be to you holy to the LORD.  Whoever makes any like it, to smell it, he shall be cut off from his people.”

The altar of incense was inside the tabernacle, next to the veil which separated the holy place from the most holy place.  The most holy place contained the Ark of the covenant and the mercy seat, where God spoke to His people.  The placement of the altar tells us that, apart from the Lord Jesus, there is no access into the presence of God.  It is significant that Scripture tells us that when Christ died, the veil of the Temple, which succeeded the tabernacle and which, we are told, was several inches thick, was torn in two from top to bottom, Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.  The fact that three Gospels record this incident emphasizes its importance.  Only Matthew and Mark record that it was torn from the top down.  Only God could tear that curtain.  Only the Lord Jesus can atone for sin and open the way to God.  Did He not say, “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No man comes to the Father except through Me” John 14:6?

There are innumerable religions and churches, many roads to religion.  There is only one road to heaven.

Which road are you on?

Right On Time

Now the sojourning of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.  And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years – on that very same day – it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.  Exodus 12:40, 41.  (NKJV)

With this post, we want to start a series on the Tabernacle, that building which accompanied Israel on its sojourn from Egypt to the Promised Land and then served as the center of worship for many decades until the building of the Temple during Solomon’s reign.  However, the children of Israel had to get out of Egypt before any of that could happen.  This post is about the beginning of those events which led to the construction of the Tabernacle.

After some instructions from the LORD about the Passover, which was to serve as a reminder of slavery in Egypt and their deliverance from it, verse 51 repeats what vs. 40, 41 said:  And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

“On that very same day….”

Four hundred and thirty years had passed.  Several generations of Israelites had come and gone in Egypt.  Things had gotten much worse, Exodus chapter 1 – I think Satan knew that the time of God’s promise was drawing near and, while there was nothing he could do to prevent that from happening, he determined he’d make it as rough as possible on the people of God.

But finally, that last day dawned, and “on that very same day,” Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage.

“That very same day.”

In the Old Testament, God had promised that the Messiah, the Deliverer, would come to His people after a certain period of time had elapsed, Daniel 9.  Indeed, another “time promise” of God’s had led Daniel to intercede for his people.  In v. 2, Daniel wrote, in the first years of Darius’ reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

“Seventy years….”

That seventy years served as a springboard for another “time promise” – Daniel’s “seventy sevens” in the rest of Daniel 9.  It’s not our purpose here to get into all that is meant here, but there is one more Scripture germane to the fulfilment of what God promised.

In Galatians 4:4 we read,

when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son….

“the fulness of the time

At the exact moment of time – “the time” – ordained in the purpose of God, cf. 1 Peter 1:20, a virgin girl in Israel was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, and God’s deliverance of His people – from both Testaments – was set into motion.

What does all this mean to us on this rather gloomy fall day in this year of our Lord 2018?

It means that we can trust God.

We don’t know for sure what each day will bring.  We might have a general idea, get up and go to school or work, or any number of other things, but we don’t know for certain what will happen.

God does.

David rejoiced in this fact.  In Psalm 139:15, he wrote,

Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,

The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them (emphasis added).

Some people are bothered by the idea of God’s sovereignty in our affairs, perhaps preferring to believe that God can be caught by surprise, but there are no such “oops” moments with God.  He never has to call “an emergency meeting of the Divine Council,” as one writer put it years ago.  He has no “Plan B”.

Our text, and the other verses we used, all remind us that God is never late.  He is always on time, and He is always there.  He is always here.

Oh, that we might lift our eyes upward!  We get so caught up in the affairs of life – and, yes, we are supposed to pay attention to our lives.  Still, we too easily forget God.  I’m thankful He never forgets us.

Wilt Thou be Saved or Not?

Would that we had preaching like this today!

He Hath Said

“…that if you confess withyour mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in yourheart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

Yes or no. Wilt thou be damned or not? Wilt thou be saved or not? I will not have thee say, “When I have a more convenient season I will send for thee.” Sinner, it cannot be a more convenient one than this… Now, sinner, wilt thou be reconciled, restored, forgiven? “Wilt thou be made whole?” said Jesus, and I say the same to thee, “Wilt thou be made whole?” Do you say, “No”? Must I take that for an answer? Mark you, sinner, I have to tell my Master. I must tell Him when I seek the closet of the King to-night; I must tell Him your reply that you would not. What then remains for an ambassador to…

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