Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Covenant Instructions: Preview of Exodus 25-31 [with Exodus 25:1-9 commentary]

The next five chapters (25-31) of the book of Exodus record at least some of the words which God spoke to Moses during his time on Mount Sinai.  There are instructions about the construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings, and details are given regarding the clothing of the priests and the consecration of both the priests and the tabernacle.  Instructions are given regarding anointing oil and incense.  Two men are appointed as chief craftsmen for the construction of the tablernacle and its artistic decoration.  Finally, instruction is given regarding the observance of the Sabbath day.

Remember how all of the Israelites had agreed to do all that the LORD would instruct them to do?  Well here are his covenant instructions to them.  Although some may see these five chapters as something to hurry through on the way to the next part of the story, let's take a moment to examine these instructions and see if we can get a better idea about the things which the LORD wanted to say to His people.

Offerings for the Tabernacle  (Exodus 25:1-9)

"The LORD said to Moses,
'Tell the Israeltes to bring me an offering.
You are to receive the offering for me
from each man whose heart prompts him to give.
These are the offerings you are to receive from them:
gold, silver, and bronze;
blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen;
goat hair;
ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows;
acacia wood;
olive oil for the light;
spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense;
and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.
Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.' "
Exodus 25:1-9 (NIV)
Some observations:
  • An offering was expected, yet it was to be from each man whose heart prompted him to give.
  • Specific items are mentioned as desirable offerings. These are all things which will be needed in order to construct the tabernacle, its furnishings or the priestly garments and utensils, as well as the oil and incense of the tabernacle.
  • Offering items range from gold to goat hair (the latter can be woven into cloth for tents), so there is something for all to contribute.
  • After they have received the offering, and made the sanctuary for the LORD, he will dwell among them.  (!)  Can you imagine how that news would have sounded to the Israelites?
  • The tabernacle is to be made exactly as the LORD instructs them to do.  They can't just give whatever they feel like giving or slap together some makeshift dwelling for the LORD.  They need to follow the LORD's instructions "...exactly like the pattern I will show you." (Exodus 25:9)
  • If there is a pattern to be followed, the 'real' one must exist somewhere.  Whether God drew a picture or showed Moses the heavenly tabernacle in a vision, there was an actual heavenly tabernacle of which the earthly one was only a copy.  Hebrews 8:5, after speaking previously about earthly priests, says: "They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven...".  

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