April 28, 30, 1993
We could actually point out this fact back in 36:8 when the actual work on the tabernacle started. Notice that Moses, under divine inspiration, had already recorded all the details of the tabernacle, 25:9ff. But now, instead of just saying that it was all built as commanded by God, Moses will take the rest of the book to record the details of its construction. God is not in the habit of wasting words, and He did not here. The Lord repeats Himself for a purpose, and our responsibility involves finding that purpose and the particular message He has for us in His purpose.
Vs. 1-9, the making of the ark. (See MH.)
1) What is recorded here concerning the ark, the furniture and the interior of the tabernacle will not be seen by the average Israelite. Only the priests will be allowed inside of the tabernacle, so Moses here records what the people will only know about by reading. I find it interesting that Moses gives a better record of what the "hidden" tabernacle looks like than we have of the "hidden" glories of heaven. We are actually told very little about heaven, which tells us that our emphasis is not to be on heaven but on our earthly work and responsibilities.
2) Moses' record of the construction shows all his readers how exactly he and the builders followed the instructions of the Lord. The Lord gave the pattern in 25:9ff, and all the builders followed it exactly. We pointed out in the last chapter that God does not expect robots of His people, but neither does He permit operation outside of His divine word.
3) Though the builders were only doing what was commanded by God, God still records their efforts of obedience. Though our tasks may seem "mundane," repetitious and valueless, God is keeping record. God delights in our obedience, and I think He delights even more as we do the same thing over and over in obedience to His command. He will not forget our labour, even though that labour may seem to us very boring, Heb 6:10.
4) The glories of God's earthly tabernacle, the church, are not to be passed over lightly. We should read, study and meditate upon them.
5) This chapter opens with the statement that Bezaleel himself personally made the ark. The most important piece of furniture is made by the chief of skilled craftsmen. Notice that the two cherubims of gold were beaten out of one piece (the craftsmanship required to do this would be astounding). Thus we see that the Lord gives special skills to certain people for special work within His kingdom. As we mentioned in the previous chapter, special skills bring with them special responsibilities in the Kingdom of God.
6) The ark contained the tables of stone (the law of God) and the mercy seat. There are several NT applications:
2 Co 3:3 [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Heb 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.
Heb 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Therefore, the ark was the very center of Israel's religion and is the very center of the Christian religion.
Vs. 10-23, furniture of the tabernacle. The law a shadow of good things to come in Christ, Heb 9.
1) The table of the show-bread. The bread was kept here at all times, but it was just what it says, show-bread. It was only for show on the table. The priests were to eat it, but they could not while it was on this table. They only ate it after it was replaced with new bread.
The law of the show-bread was only a shadow of things to come. The Lord, under the gospel of Jesus Christ, now sets before His people a table spread with all the good things that He has prepared for His people, Ps 23:5. Note Ps 69:22 Let their table become a snare before them: and [that which should have been] for [their] welfare, [let it become] a trap. Ro 11:9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Christ, Who should have been for their welfare, became a snare, a trap, a stumblingblock and a recompence. Recompence... their rejection of Christ brought upon the nation all the blood guilt from the time of Able, Mat 23:35, 36 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
The gospel welcomes us to the table set before us, but we must be cautious how we "use" what has been freely provided for us in Christ, or we also will recompence...
2) the candlestick: it was also made of one piece of gold, but we are not told specifically that Bezaleel made it. Evidently, there were others with equal skill among the workers. The candlestick was not only functional, bowls for the fire, but beautiful, knops and flowers. It provided light in the darkness of the tabernacle. It was fed by pure olive oil.
A) Of course, the word of God is compared to pure gold, Ps 119:72, &c. Therefore, the Spirit of God radiates through it. Furthermore, there are parts of the word (and work) of God which are for beauty alone, i.e. knops and flowers. These "beautiful parts" must not be overlooked.
B) As a candlestick, we are lights in a dark world.
C) Christ is to shine through us. Might mention that no matter how pure the oil, it could not shine without the candlestick. Christ is all holy and pure, but He has chosen to shine only through His people, His candlesticks.
D) There were many lights, 7 in all, but only one trunk that provided oil to all the branches. We are His branches and every child of God must get his source of light from the same "vine." The union is absolutely necessary, for without it, we would have no light for the darkness around us.
E) Of course, we cannot mention the candlestick without mentioning Rev. 2:1. His light shines into the very darkest recesses of the heart.
Vs. 25-28, the golden altar of incense.
This is one of the more obvious pieces of furniture. It represents the prayers of the saints which ascend continually to the Father. See Rev ch 8. Gold represents purity, and the Spirit makes our prayers pure, Rom 8:26. Furthermore, pure gold tells us that we owe the Lord the very best we have.
V. 29, the oil and incense. The altar and candlestick is made first, then the oil and incense is made.
The oil and incense is made with exacting precision, according to the work of the apothecary. Was this art new? Did God have to supernaturally teach this art for this specific time? Or did the people pick up this art in Egypt? We really do not know. All we know is that God commanded it and the people did the command with the skill provided by the Lord God.
As the saying goes: "Those He calls, He qualifies." 2Ti 3:16, 17 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. The Lord has equipped His people with all they need in order to obey Him, do His work and live a righteous life. Our only goal must be to advance the Kingdom of God, and God has provided all we need to pursue that goal effectively.