May 4-May 6, 1993

Exodus 38

Vs. 1-7, he made the altar.

The Ark containing the law, the table of shewbread, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the holy anointing oil and the incense have all been made. All of these articles spoke of holiness and purity, starting with the seat of God Himself (the Ark containing the law). Now they must make the means for sinful man to approach a holy God: the altar.

the altar of burnt offering:

1) the inner parts of the tabernacle, where no man but the priest could go, were made of pure gold; the area of the tabernacle available to the common man was furnished with brass. (Brass altar and laver.) This altar was set before the door of the tabernacle... Ex 40:6.

2) The sinner could not approach the beautiful, golden interior of the tabernacle, but he could approach the altar. In fact, he not only had free access to the altar, but he was urged (yes, commanded) to approach the Father through this altar. The point that stands out about this altar and makes it traceable throughout the Scripture is it was foursquare, five cubits, and three cubits high. Solomon made a new, larger altar, but he kept it foursquare, 2 Chronicles 4:1. Therefore, the size was not the important point (or he would have retained the original size); the important point was that it remain foursquare. Note also that Solomon did not keep the same ratio between the sides and height. The first altar was 5 & 3. Solomon's was 20 & 10. Though 2 Chron records no horns on Solomon's altar, we can assume that it was all the same except for the rings and poles for carrying it.

(Four: The number denotes God's government of men and affairs upon the earth... In the Scripture, the eternal city, the everlasting abode of the saints, is a city four-square because there God alone is the Lord, and there is no other ruler. [Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types, p 206.])

The Altar:

A) clearly speaks of both the person and work of Christ. He was both the altar and the sacrifice upon the altar, Heb 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Heb 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. And the altar is Christ.

Romans 8:3, 4 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.

B) clearly speaks of the Christian's sacrifice:

Romans 12:1, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.
1 Peter 2:5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

C) we find the foursquare altar mentioned in Ezekiel's new temple. We know from the passages just referred to, Ezekiel's altar must be referring to Christ, and not to any kind of renewed blood sacrifice under the authority of the Holy Father:

Ezekiel 43:13-17 And these [are] the measures of the altar after the cubits: The cubit [is] a cubit and an hand breadth; even the bottom [shall be] a cubit, and the breadth a cubit, and the border thereof by the edge thereof round about [shall be] a span: and this [shall be] the higher place of the altar. And from the bottom [upon] the ground [even] to the lower settle [shall be] two cubits, and the breadth one cubit; and from the lesser settle [even] to the greater settle [shall be] four cubits, and the breadth [one] cubit. So the altar [shall be] four cubits; and from the altar and upward [shall be] four horns. And the altar [shall be] twelve [cubits] long, twelve broad, square in the four squares thereof. And the settle [shall be] fourteen [cubits] long and fourteen broad in the four squares thereof; and the border about it [shall be] half a cubit; and the bottom thereof [shall be] a cubit about; and his stairs shall look toward the east.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

D) as we follow the foursquare through Scriptures, we find that it speaks of Christ. In the context of Christ, note Revelation 21:16 And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. I am not discounting references to a literal heaven and the literal second coming of Christ, but look at Rev. 22:15: for without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, &c. Thus, the foursquare city exists before sin is eradicated. (Are we now living in this city? V. 15 is very clearly in existence today, and if foursquare speaks of Christ, then we are in Christ surrounded by evil of all kinds.

Exodus 38:8, the laver of brass.

This laver held water for the priests to wash in when they went about their duties of ministering before the Lord, that they die not before the Lord, Exo 30:20, 21. It was placed between the tent of the congregation and the altar, Ex 40:30. As with the altar, the size is not the important thing, for Solomon's laver was much larger, 1 Ki 7.

1) the laver speaks simply of the cleansing of Christ, making one fit for service to the Holy Father "in holy duty." (MH) Furthermore, if one is not washed in the blood of Christ, they will die before the Holy Father.

A) washing the hands & feet spoke of holy preparedness for service: doing His will with the hands and walking in His way with the feet.
John 13:10 Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash [his] feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.

B) but washing spoke of much more than outward purity; it spoke of inward purity, Psalms 26:6 I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: The context of Ps 26 is worth mentioning:

a) washing the hands & feet speaks of: separating from evil doers.
b) the Lord trying the heart to "see if there be any wicked way therein."
c) loving the habitation of the Lord's house, v. 8.
d) avoiding doing evil (pure hands, v. 10) and walking in integrity (pure feet, v. 11).
e) praise, thanksgiving and blessing the Lord.

Thus even in the OT, the washing in the laver was highly symbolic of the cleansing work of the Spirit. Death is the result of trying to serve the Lord without sincerity of heart, Ex 30:20, 21.

C) Psalms 24 also clearly tells us that "the true priest in God's house, whether he have the outward calling of a priest or not; he alone serves Him in spirit and in truth." (Fairbairn, 259.)

D) The true Christian is one who has been washed from his sin by the blood of Christ, regenerated, and serves God purified from guilt and pollution of sin. The absolute necessity of washing was clearly spoken of in Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

Then it is easily traced in the NT:

Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
Titus 3:5, 6, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
Hebrews 9:10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

E) Heb 9:10 [Which stood] only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed [on them] until the time of reformation.


However represented, both the initiatory rite of baptism, and the general language of New Testament Scripture, proclaim the fact, that they only who have been cleansed from the defilements of sin, and made partakers of a new nature, can be recognized as the true servants of Christ, and heirs of His salvation. Or, as our Lord Himself put it, after the symbolical service He had performed in the circle of His disciples, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." Fairbairn, Typology, p 260.

G) it is interesting that the laver is not mentioned in Ezekiel's new temple; rather, he sees a river, ch. 47. There is no need for a laver in Ezekiel's temple because the cleansing waters run from under the altar. Thus, cleansing is in Christ.

H) There is also a river in Rev 22 which proceeded out of the throne of God and of the lamb. This river is obviously referring to Christ.

2) V. 8, the makeup of the laver. It was made of the lookingglasses of the women which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. Two points of note in this verse: 1) the women assembled, & 2) the lookingglasses. First, the women:

Apparently, it was a common practice for the women to gather at the door of the tabernacle. Fairbairn explains this assembled group thusly (p 258):

"Of the serving-women who served at the door of the tabernacle of meeting." The expression in the original is the term commonly applied to designate military service; but it is also used to the stated services of the priests in their sacred vocation, and is here transferred to a class of females who appear from early times to have devoted themselves to regular attendance on the worship of God, for the purpose of performing such services as they might be capable of rendering. In process of time, a distinct place was assigned them somewhere in the precincts of the tabernacle. Latterly, and probably not till the post-Babylonian times, the service of the women in question appears to have consisted much in exercises of fasting and prayer. Hence the Septuagint, interpreting rather than translating, renders, "the looking-glasses of the fasting-women who fasted." And Aben-ezra, as quoted by Lightfoot, thus explains: "It is the custom of all women to behold their face every morning in the mirror, that they may be able to dress their hair; but lo! there were women in Israel that served the Lord, who abandoned this worldly delight, and gave away their glasses as a free-will offering, for they had no more use of them; but they came every day tot he door of the tabernacle of the congregation to pray, and hear the words of the commandments."


I think there are a couple observations worth making here:

A) women, not men, made themselves available for whatever service they could do. I thought women willingly making themselves available for service was a modern phenomenon, but we see here that as soon as there was a "meeting place" with God, the women made themselves available for service.
Thus, it appears that women have more desire and sensitivity toward the things of the Lord than men: the women were/are the ones who set the example for zeal and devotion for the service of the Lord. In my opinion, this is a sad commentary about the average man. Now, I am sure that the men had to make a living, but not in the wilderness as was the case in Ex 38. The Lord fed and clothed them for these 40 years, so the men had time to be at the temple to offer their services. I have noticed today that men send their wives to do the work while they sit around and look important.

B) since it was the women that assembled for service, did this give the impression that Godly service was woman's work?

C) the women who offered themselves for service were easily taken advantage of: 1 Samuel 2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. So obviously, not all the women were godly women any more than all women today are godly women, 2 Tim 3:6.

D) we can trace the women at the temple into the NT.

John 18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. Damsel here refers to a female servant or slave. For some reason, she was here in forced servitude in this capacity. This clears up a little the difficulty over the women at the temple.

So, what is the proper place of the woman in the house of God?

Luke 2:37 And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served [God] with fastings and prayers night and day.
1 Timothy 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

The indication is that the women in the OT that remained at the door of the tabernacle were primarily elderly widows. I do not believe Paul would have created an office contrary to the OT office of the woman at the tabernacle and temple. But notice Paul's warning to Timothy: avoid using younger women around the "house of the Lord," because they could well lead to trouble. The implication is that every since the "house of the Lord" has been in existence (specifically the wilderness tabernacle), there have been women hanging around who should not have been hanging around. These are the ones who were involved in 1 Samuel 2:22.

There is an important point here: I noticed at Marrywoods that many times women like being around the center of attention or the source of power and authority. Women were strongly attracted to the source of power, the pastor. We also see this in politics: women are strongly attracted to the source of power and authority. After all, they are made to be under authority. Thus, the wrong type of women can easily be attracted.

E) men also are responsible to make themselves available.

Proverbs 8:34 Blessed [is] the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

I might conclude this thought with this: the proper place of service for women in the church is a confusing question. The only thing I am sure of is that the office of the widow is a godly office that is totally overlooked by the modern church, to the church's own destruction. I notice that Dr Cates emphasis very much that the pastor is not to counsel the women of the church. This is a responsibility of the elderly women.

Personal observation, for which I have no answer: My question is, Where were the men? The willing men did the work, but what happened to them after the work was completed? Why are the women the ones who set the example of godly service. During the 25 or so years of my "Christian Service," I have found this very thing to be true: the women set the example of willingness and service. In fact, from a human standpoint, if it were not for godly, willing women, the work of the Lord would not be accomplished. I do not understand why men are so hardened to God's service. I know even today (May 6, 1993) here at Linden, I know some women that, if they could do the work, there would be some major maintenance done to these buildings. It is a strange, but not new, situation, and I know of no answer.

The second point in v. 8, the lookingglasses. These were made of the finest brass, burnished to fulfill the need for a mirror. These lookingglasses were collected and probably molten down and recast in the needed mold for the laver to hold the water for washing. These zealous, godly women parted with their mirrors for the service of the Lord.

Moses tells us specifically who gave their mirrors for the Lord's service: the women assembled at the tabernacle. The women who assembled not are not included in this offering of the mirrors. The implications of this gift are many:

A) a woman and a mirror is almost inseparable. She is extremely concerned about her looks when she goes into public. These women assembled in the most public place in the nation, the tabernacle, yet they gave up their mirrors. Obviously, their zeal in their assembly before the tabernacle was real. Many women (and men) assemble to be seen, not to serve. These women assembled to serve, not to be seen. (My dad says about my mom, "Some people go to church to see, others to be seen. Your mom went to be seen." Well, these women went to serve.)

B) this offering of the mirrors to the service of the Lord is found in the NT in one of the most obvious places: 1 Peter 3:1-5, Likewise, ye wives, [be] in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation [coupled] with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward [adorning] of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But [let it be] the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, [even the ornament] of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.

Thus these godly women were concerned about one thing only: their heart attitude in their service for the Lord. They did not go to be seen; they went to serve. Their adorning was not an outward adorning, but an inward adorning of the heart.

C) this offering of their mirrors not only proved their zeal and love for the Lord, it proved their humility before the Lord. They gave to the Lord the things that could lead to pride and folly. Thus though not sinful in itself (the mirror), they offered to the Lord that thing which could easily lead to sin, Rom 13:14.

D) Or we could look at the offering of the mirrors as godly people seeing a need in the work of the Lord (the laver in this case. There was no specific offering given for the laver), and sacrificing that which is most important to them that the Lord's work might continue on.

E) the laver, after being remolded from the mirrors, was probably itself polished to a high gloss, enabling the priest to see his own reflection as he washed at the laver. Of course, the implications are very obvious: James 1: 22-25, But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth [therein], he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The word of God has been given to us to reflect the truth and to cleanse according to the truth. We must not turn from it.

Note the foolishness of the priest if he would see dirt in his reflection in the laver, and he then would continue on with the "smudge" on his face. We would consider that presumption. The Lord provided the laver and the water to cleanse him, he would see the need for cleansing and then he would proceed on in his dirty way. How far would he get in his tabernacle service?

Vs. 9-20, the moveable material of the wilderness tabernacle.

The "house of God" remained in this form for many hundreds of years, much longer than it remained as a temple. Yes, a permanent temple was erected under Solomon, but it lasted for the united kingdom for only about 33 years. The building itself lasted for many more years. We have already mentioned the significance of the building material, so we will only mention a couple more points here.

1) the building material and nature of construction made this "dwelling place of God" a very temporal and moveable dwelling. The temporal nature of the tabernacle spoke of the manner of the OT church. It was sufficient for the OT saints and nation of God, but it was completely insufficient for the NT saints and nation of God. It was temporal, and was to pass away, replaced by the new temple, the Lord Jesus Christ, Mr 14:58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.

2) "It represented the state of the Old-Testament church: it was a garden enclosed; the worshippers were then confined to a little compass." (MH) Whereas under the new dispensation of Christ, the new church is opened for whosoever will and encompasses the whole world.

Vs. 21-31, this is the sum... the accounting of the material used.

Note these important points from this section.

1) Bezaleel (and his chief assistant, Aholiab), though the chief man in charge of this tremendous project, was accountable to Moses; he was responsible to do as Moses commanded him (because Moses himself was accountable to God). Therefore, no matter what position in life one holds, he is always accountable to someone, even if that someone is the Lord. No person is held unaccountable. I suppose one of the most devastating facts of our day is the fact that no one will be responsible and accountable. Irresponsibility is rampant, and society is disintegrating.

2), it was counted, and Bezaleel was held accountable for every cent. Three points: A) Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest did the counting, not Bezaleel; B) the counting was done at the command of Moses, and C) not everything is counted. MH says that both Ithamar and Bezaleel counted, but the text reads differently. V. 21 tells us that Ithamar counted in obedience to Moses, and 22 tells us that Bezaleel made all the Lord commanded Moses. To me, the wording divides the thought into two parts: Ithamar's responsibility to count, and Bezaleel's responsibility to build.

The rest of the chapter is Ithamar's account of how much gold, silver and brass was used by the builders, Bezaleel and Aholiab. The priest counted and gave the report to Moses. I believe it is significant that the wood and skins used are not accounted for. In other words, God expects accountability for major items used in His work, but He expects common since and honesty to prevail. Every penny was not accounted for, but the major items were. And no one was exempt from accountability.

3) another point worth mentioning: "The raising of the gold by voluntary contribution, and of the silver by way of tribute, shows that either way may be taken for the defraying of public expenses, providing that nothing be done with partiality. (MH)" I believe this statement borders on state supported religious activity through a mandatory tax, which has been used in past history.

The answer to that is the fact that during the national prominence of Israel before the kings, both religious and civil functions were centered in the tabernacle. Therefore, the mandatory poll tax was paid to the religious center, but it was also the political center. Later at the division of the civil center from the religious center (ie. the kings), the civil tax went to the civil center. That tax was used to provide justice and judgment; therefore, it flowed to the seat of justice and judgment.


There are two points that stand out to me in this chapter: one is the free-will offering of the lookingglasses and the other is the accounting for the gold, silver and brass that was given for the work of the Lord.