Today we finish the Book of Exodus. It has been an eventful book, filled with plagues, the glory of God, wandering in the wilderness, the lack of faith on the part of the Israelites, and the building of a tabernacle for God to dwell in and to be worshiped at. Chapters 25-31 explain the instructions for building the tabernacle. And chapters 35-40 tell of the actual building of the tabernacle. Today's reading felt like déjà vu. We have read much of this before. What we see now is the actual building.
Already we have seen the Israelites do exactly what God has told them to do at least 20 times. There are sometimes the Israelites are totally obedient God's to instructions. But we have seen the opposite as well. In these chapters today we see Israel's obedience. Through Moses God calls the people to bring offerings to Him...gold, silver, bronze, jewels, and blue, purple, and red yarn. God also called for hides, acacia wood, spices, and oil for the lamps. We see the Israelites desire to contribute. The call was for anyone whose heart prompted them to give, and all who had willing hearts. The people gave so much they had to be stopped. The craftsmen came to Moses and asked that the people stop giving because they had more than enough. There isn't a pastor alive today who has ever had to do that...ask people to stop giving because they had way more than they needed.
Not only did God prompt people to give but He also equipped those whom He called to do much of the craftsmanship. God chose two men to work and train others. These men were Bezalel and Oholiab, from the tribes of Judah and Dan respectively. As the work began there must have been ripples of excitement through the camp. This was new and different and gave the impression of permanence. God had asked them to give, and they had. It must have felt good to be obedient. From the sounds of things, most of the people had given what they had to contribute. Everybody got to play a part in this. The question was, had the Israelites grieved God so badly with their behavior that the tabernacle would be built, but God would not want to be in their midst anymore.
For a dwelling/worship place for the Lord this was no small feat. The whole enclosure was 150 feet long, half a football field. And half of that in width. Each time the pillar of cloud or fire lifted from the tabernacle the whole structure needed to be taken down and transported to the next place, and then set up again. The weight of the gold used in this tabernacle was just over a ton. They used 3 and 3/4 tons of silver and 2 and 1/2 tons of bronze. Not only was it good sized, but it was heavy. God had given Moses all the detailed instructions for the building and he had obeyed. Once all the pieces were made the people brought them to Moses. He directed the setting up of the tabernacle. And it was Moses who placed the stone tablets, the jar of manna, and Aaron's budding staff into the Ark of the Covenant. The gold covered poles were put into the rings on the Ark. The curtain was hung in front of it and God was hidden from His people. We have gone from God walking in the cool of the evening with Adam and Eve to God being hidden away from His people who now have no access to Him whatsoever. And He would remain hidden behind the curtain in the temple until it was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross. Sin has consequences. The Israelites were slowly finding that out.
Piece by piece the tabernacle was set up. Fresh bread was placed on the table of show bread. Oil was put in the lamps on the lamp stand. The utensils needed for the sacrifices were laid out, ready to be used and the supply of oil and fragrant incense was put in place. Water was put in the basin for the priests to wash in and the rest of the curtains were hung. There was anticipation in the camp. Once Moses finished the work the Israelites watched as the cloud of the Lord's presence settled over the tabernacle. God was in their midst. He was present with them. The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Once again God showed His people His glory. Moses did not see the glory of God head on in the book of Exodus. But in Luke's gospel, 9:28-36 we watch as Jesus takes Peter, James, and John up on a mountain to pray. In scripture mountains are always places of revelation. As Jesus was praying, He was transfigured. His clothes became dazzling white...so bright the three disciples could not look at Him. Jesus' face changed and two men appeared with Him, Moses and Elijah. The cloud appeared and Moses saw Jesus, face to face. Before Moses could not see God’s face but now, he beheld Him. Moses was speaking to Jesus like a friend. They were discussing Jesus' departure, literally His exodus! Moses saw the glory of God in Jesus Christ as Jesus dwelt among them.
The tabernacle and all its glory point to the glory of God in Jesus Christ. The apostle John reminds us of this in 1:14. ”The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We have seen His glory, the glory as the One and only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” In the Lord of the Rings Sam asks Mr. Frodo, ”I wonder what sort of a tale we have fallen into?” The Book of Exodus shows us. We are in THE story, the great and grand redemptive story of God's mercy and grace. We are in the one true story of the whole world. We look at Exodus and see the good news and Exodus points us ahead to Christ. And Exodus looks to the end...which is only the beginning.
God’s people were in bondage to sin with no way to see the end. Countless lambs were sacrificed for the atonement of sin. But it wasn't until the lamb of God came in Jesus that atonement was paid once and for all. The blood of this lamb has set us free. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians, right now we see in a mirror dimly, but the day will come when we will see Him face to face. What an amazing day that will be!
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W