May 18, 2015.
Daily Reading: Exodus 25-28.
Background: Exodus 21-24.
Concepts and Connections.
1. The contribution for the sanctuary: After giving practical laws in the previous chapter, the Lord commissions Moses to take up a freewill contribution (different from tithing) of the people to fill the sanctuary, which would be made according to the directions given Moses according to the pattern of the tabernacle. Notice that it was not only money that the Lord told Moses to take up from the people, but there was a long list of items that could be brought before the Lord, items of value along with practical items that could be used. A freewill offering to the Lord does not have to be money, though it can be, but can also include other items we might have more readily due to our craft or position.
2. The ark of the covenant: The next set of instructions were concerning the ark of the covenant, which would play a vital role in Israel’s history, especially during the early part of it. The ark represented the very presence of God, sometimes in a tangible way. It was where God would meet His people (see also Exodus 30:36), and a relic of rally in war (see I Samuel 4). In it would contain the testimony (the two tablets of stone given to Moses), manna and Aaron’s staff (see Hebrews 9:4-5). The specific instructions for how to construct the ark, how it was to be carried (see also Numbers 7:9 and II Samuel 6) an the outward adorning of it. Notice the amount of detail that is given here about how God wanted all of this laid out. In the Law, God was often very specific as to how he wanted things done, and there were certainly consequences when things were not doing right (see II Samuel 6). This is contrasted in the New Testament with the freedom in Christ, as He indeed came to set us free from the bondage of the Law (see Galatians 2, 4 and 5).
3. The table for bread and the golden lamp stand: The last two sets of instruction given in this chapter are for the table that would hold the bread of the presence and the golden lamp stand, two items that would be integral in tabernacle worship. The table was to keep the bread of the presence, that was to be arranged by the priests every Sabbath day, and the lamp stand was supposed to burn continually that there would always be a light outside the tabernacle (see Leviticus 24:1-9). The lamp stand (menorah) is still a central symbol in Judaism today, often tightly associated with Hanukkah.
The tabernacle: This chapter gives a detailed instruction as to how the children of Israel were to build the tabernacle where the priest would minister before God for the people and where the presence of God would tangibly sit at times. It was to be made according to the pattern that God gave, which can be found here, and that pattern was very specific. However specific, it was but a shadow of heavily things, a shadow that could not be perfect (see Hebrews 8:1-7). The tabernacle was set up as a way for God to interact with the people, through the holy of holies (the innermost part of the tabernacle, separated by a veil) that allowed communication without the people being consumed out of His righteousness. Once Christ came and offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice for our sins, however, this separation was no longer necessary, for we can stand blameless before God, covered in the blood of the Lamb (see Matthew 27:51, I Corinthians 3:16 and Hebrews 9).
The altar, the court and the oil: After giving instructions for the building of the tabernacle, instructions for some of the things within the tabernacle and for the tabernacle court are given. The altar where sacrifice was to be made is specifically designed here, notably with four horns on the four corners where the priest would wipe some of the blood of the burnt offering (see Leviticus 4:30). These horns are what Adonijah, the son of David who tried to assume the throne after the death of David, took hold of when he feared Solomon, as a way of keeping himself from the wrath of the king (see I Kings 1:49-52). Joab would do the same thing in the next chapter for a similar reason (see I Kings 2:28-29). The court of the tabernacle had specific instructions as to its design and pillars and olive oil was to be brought by the children of Israel to the tent of meeting that it might be continually burned throughout the generations of the children of Israel via the sons of Aaron.
The priestly garments: Everything about the tabernacle worship was detailed, down to the garments (even the undergarments) that the priests were to wear while ministering before the Lord. Note that the Lord called those who were skillful in weaving to make these garments, as He was the One who gave them this skill. These garments were to be made, holy to the Lord, so as to protect Aaron and his sons from the righteousness of God that would undoubtedly consume them if they came near Him in their sinful bodies without a layer of protection (see v. 43). The garments to be made were a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash, along with the undergarments that would be mentioned later on in the chapter. Each piece was to be skillfully woven, so that it would not tear apart. These garments were to be worn by Aaron and his sons as a statue forever in temple worship.
Tomorrow’s Reading: II Samuel 14-19.
The Lord grant you wisdom.