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?