I have a feeling, if I told you, “Today we are going to watch documentaries on how to make mud,” you would all of a sudden remember you had a dentist appointment. And I wouldn’t blame you. You know what, on second thought, I have a dentist appointment too.
Devotional Scripture: Exodus 25:1-9
Key Verse: “And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst.” Exodus 25:8
Or maybe you would tell me, “Stacey, I don’t need to watch documentaries on mud. I already know how to make mud.” (The been there done that mentality.) Or if you’re like me you might ask, “Well, are there snacks? I mean, I’m game if there’s snacks.” (The what’s in it for me mentality.)
Nothing wrong with snacks by the way. The problem is any of those three is how we tend to approach certain segments of Scripture. One of those segments being the latter half of Exodus wherein God gives us the ins and outs of the construction of the tabernacle.
Which I will say, is tedious. The instructions at times hard to grasp. Like the giant dollhouse I made my husband put together a few years ago for our daughter’s birthday. (And when I say giant, I mean giant. It’s like five feet tall.) Up until well after midnight putting that thing together, I wondered a few times if it would end up on the other side of the window. Or better yet – if I was going to end up on the other side of the window. (Just kidding. Kind of.)
But if we push through and do the work required, we won’t be sorry. (Well, maybe I’m sorry I bought the dollhouse, but I’m definitely not apologizing for Scripture.) The tabernacle is a masterpiece. Not only is it a copy of the things which are in heaven (I mean, how cool is that?), but it portrays the person and work of Christ in brilliant forms.
- The tabernacle was a temporary tent housing the glory of God. It served its purpose well but it was not God’s plan to stay in a tent forever. Once Israel was established in Canaan God replaced the tabernacle with a more permanent structure, the Temple. (Which was a stately sight, I’m sure.) Likewise, Jesus Christ, in the body of a common man, was a temporary tent housing the glory of God. For he is “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). But now Christ, having done the work required of him, permanently reigns in his glorified state. (And I have no doubt, it’s a stately sight.)
- By the looks of things, the tabernacle was nothing special. An outer layer of goatskins hid the tabernacle’s inner glory. It’s bases of silver and walls of gold were unseen to the average passerby. In essence, it had a humble appearance. Just as our Savior, the holy and righteous Son of God, had “no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Is. 53:2).
- Yet that is where God dwelled. First in a tabernacle made of acacia wood and goatskins and then in the unpretentious flesh of man. The Most Holy Place, aka. Holy of Holies, unable to contain His glory. Just as human skin was unable to contain the glory of Christ. For “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (John 1:14).
- Furthermore, the tabernacle was Israel’s gathering place. Just as Christ is our gathering place. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” (Matthew 18:20). A church might be the place we assemble, but it’s Christ who brings us together. It’s in Him we unify, bonded together by the will of God.
- The tabernacle was also known as the “Tent of Meeting.” Not just because it’s where people gathered, but because It’s where God spoke with Moses. And man spoke to God. It’s where man gave his sacrifice and God accepted it. It’s where forgiveness was sought and mercy granted. Indeed, it was the meeting place between God and man. Just as Christ is the meeting place between God and man. “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
- But to meet with God at the tabernacle you had to walk through the one door provided on the east side of the structure. So I don’t think we should be the least bit surprised by Christ’ words in John 10:9, “I am the door” or “gate” depending on your translation. Because he is the ONE way to the Father. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6). No one gets to the Father except through him.
- Furthermore, it’s the tribe of Judah who camped on the east side of the tabernacle. (Numbers 2:3) So entrance through the doorway came by way of the tribe of Judah. (Is anyone else getting a little undone here? This is perfection at its best people.) Our blessed Savior is from none other the tribe of Judah. “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered” (Rev. 5:5).
- Then there is the fact that the tabernacle is where the law was preserved. The two stone tablets containing God’s commandments were placed in the Ark of the Covenant inside the Holy of Holies. A fitting place for the law to stay since the law is preserved in none other than Jesus Christ. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). And fulfill it he did.
Not that the Israelites understood any of this. But because it was God’s dwelling place the contributions for the tabernacle were to be the best Israel had to offer. God wanted “Gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for the setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece” (Ex. 25:3-7).
None of that was cheap. None of it easily parted with. Most of it was probably confiscated when the Israelites plundered the Egyptians. So it hadn’t been theirs for long, yet they gave it abundantly. Because if God was willing to dwell among them, then it was worth every costly gem they had.
A fact to be duly noted. Because even now God is willing to dwell among us. A puzzlement not even the brightest of minds can figure out. A holy God in sinful man, you and me as His temple? And if He’s willing, shouldn’t we be as well; willing to give the best we have to offer?
God had a plan my friend. A plan he carried out in the best of detail. A plan we get to see pictured in the nooks and crannies of the tabernacle. A plan still unfolding (see Revelation 21:3). So it’s not just thirteen chapters of boring detail, it’s thirteen chapters of unimaginable love wherein the holy God is willing to dwell with a sinful people.