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The Tabernacle


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International Lesson Exodus 40:16-31

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The Tabernacle

  1. 1. Exodus 40:16-31 The Tabernacle
  2. 2. Context In the account of the building of the tabernacle, one refrain stands out above everything else: “Moses did everything just as the Lord commanded him” (see Exodus 40:16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 32). Wilbur Fields calls these eight verses “An overview of obedience! A chronicle of compliance!”
  3. 3. Context The tabernacle in essence served as a portable temple. The Lord had told Moses, “Have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8, 9). Then he added, “Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” Moses did just that!
  4. 4. Context James E. Smith put it this way: “The Tabernacle is rooted in divine revelation. The Israelites merely implemented the directives of God. Eighteen times in the last two chapters the narrator emphasizes the complete compliance to the commandments of God.” Exodus 25-31 contains the Lord’s instructions about the tabernacle proper, while chapters 35-39 explain how it was constructed.
  5. 5. Context That God could manifest Himself to me without their immediate death was proven in His encounters with the patriarchs. That men could serve Him without the necessity of a structure was evident in the burning bush. Yet man was limited in his approach to God. The Tabernacle became the blueprint for how a man should approach God with reverence and worship. That blueprint would find completion in the person of Jesus Christ and the indwelling of His Spirit.
  6. 6. Exodus 40:16 Moses did everything just as the LORD had commanded him.
  7. 7. Exodus 40:16 Moses received one of the greatest compliments the Bible: “Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded.” Yet later, Moses did disobey God when he misused the staff of God and struck the rock to give water to the people. Earlier, God had commanded Moses to strike the rock for water, and he obeyed (see Exodus 17:6). Later, God commanded Moses to “tell the rock before your eyes to yield its water,” and thus show the power of God’s word, but Moses disobeyed God and struck the rock with his staff (see Numbers 20:6-13).
  8. 8. Exodus 40:16 But, from the time he met God at the burning bush to the time of the second Passover, Moses did everything just as the LORD commanded. He obeyed and built the tabernacle exactly as God told him to do, and this verse refers primarily to the time period of Moses building and furnishing the tabernacle (Exodus 40:17).
  9. 9. Lesson Everything that God commands has a purpose (Exod. 40:17-19) It is the frailty of man that ruins our appreciation of God’s command. We grow up under that commands of men and women who are not perfect and who commands are sometimes errant or even harmful. We learn early that we do not have to obey every command given us and sometimes should not obey.
  10. 10. Lesson Perhaps the closest image of God command is found in the coach or instructor. If they are competent, they know why we should follow their commands even when we do not. In time, we see the wisdom of their instruction. Trusting the intent and purposes of God eventually builds a relationship where we covet His instructions because He has proven faithful.
  11. 11. Exodus 40:17 In the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, the tabernacle was set up
  12. 12. Exodus 40:17 The new first month of the year was established by God at the celebration of the first Passover. During their first year of freedom as Israelites, God revealed to Moses the exact details and dimensions of a tabernacle, which means “tent of meeting,” that Moses was to build as a place where God would meet him and where the Levite priests would make appropriate sacrifices.
  13. 13. Exodus 40:18 Moses set up the tabernacle; he laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars;
  14. 14. Exodus 40:18 The Bible describes the tabernacle as God intended for it to be built (not a house, not a building, not a temple), but a tent for God to use so He could speak to Moses and lead the people from place to place on their way to the Promised Land.
  15. 15. Exodus 40:18 The fact that God wanted a tent built indicated that the Israelites were not to consider their wilderness wandering their true or final home.
  16. 16. Exodus 40:18 The New Testament sometimes calls our human bodies a tent, because our bodies on this earth as we currently reside are not the eternal home that Jesus has prepared for all who believe in Him as Lord and Savior (see John 14:1-3 and 2 Corinthians 5:1-4).
  17. 17. Exodus 40:19 and he spread the tent over the tabernacle, and put the covering of the tent over it; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  18. 18. Exodus 40:19 The completed tabernacle was a tent that was covered by another tent. The outer tent would protect the inner tent, the tabernacle, from the seasonal changes in the wilderness as the people traveled to the Promised Land. The tabernacle was holy or set aside to the LORD and required the greatest respect and care.
  19. 19. Exodus 40:20 He took the covenant and put it into the ark, and put the poles on the ark, and set the mercy seat above the ark;
  20. 20. Exodus 40:20 The ark was an elaborately decorated box covered with gold, and God commanded Moses to put the two stone tablets upon which were written the 10 Commandments inside the ark. The 10 Commandments were the moral law of God with application to all people everywhere.
  21. 21. Exodus 40:20 Above the ark was a mercy seat that indicated mercy from God and forgiveness was possible for those who broke God’s law but repented and participated in the correct sacrifices for their sins.
  22. 22. Exodus 40:20 The original Hebrew word translated as Mercy Seat is (pronounced) kap-po-reth, and means to cover, in two ways; as a noun, meaning a lid, or a top, but also, based on the Hebrew root from which it was derived, as a verb meaning to pardon, or to atone for, as in to cover a debt. The Hebrew word kap-po-reth is used exclusively in the Scriptures for The Mercy Seat, for nothing else.
  23. 23. Exodus 40:20 The poles were used by Levites to carry the ark, because the ark was too sacred to be touched with human hands and God had commanded how the ark was to be carried by the Levites (as Uzzah and King David discovered when they mishandled the ark; 2 Samuel 6).
  24. 24. Lesson Lesson: In the service of God, the details do matter (vss. 20-21) We live in a world of ‘good enough’ where service and product suffer. That is why we are so impressed when we encounter true customer service. Their dedication to the details astound us and guarantee our support and purchase because we find it so rare.
  25. 25. Lesson Too many Christians live a life of ‘good enough’ faith and service. They do what they think is good enough and their lives and witness suffer for it. It is in the details that the level of our faith and quality of our obedience is elevated to faithfulness. When we do all things as for Him, we impress those around us and better our spiritual life. We glean the details for in them is found the excellence.
  26. 26. Exodus 40:21 and he brought the ark into the tabernacle, and set up the curtain for screening, and screened the ark of the covenant; as the LORD had commanded Moses
  27. 27. Exodus 40:21 The Bible not only teaches that Moses also obeyed God’s rules for setting up and moving the tabernacle in the future “as the LORD had commanded,” and the rules needed to be followed exactly “as the LORD had commanded,” and Moses recorded these rules for others to follow later after his death “as the LORD had commanded.”
  28. 28. Exodus 40:21 The materials used were not sacred in their own right but the act was sacred in its performance. They were invoking God into their presence. The care given to construction was not so much about materials as it was about reverence and submission.
  29. 29. Exodus 40:22 He put the table in the tent of meeting, on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the curtain,
  30. 30. Exodus 40:22 The tabernacle would be entered only by appointed Levite priests from a north side opening. A curtain or screen separated the priests who worked daily in the service of God from the most holy place, “the holy of holies,” that contained the Ark of the Covenant, an area in the tabernacle that only the high priest could enter once a year for atonement.
  31. 31. Exodus 40:23 and set the bread in order on it before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  32. 32. Exodus 40:23 The table held the bread that the priests presented before the LORD. Bread was essential for life and health, and unleavened bread was eaten at Passover and during the feast of unleavened bread following the Passover. It would be appropriate to offer what is essential for life in the temple, though God of course does not need bread to eat. Believers should trust God to provide for their lives in service of God, even as the priests offered to God what was essential for human life.
  33. 33. Exodus 40:24 He put the lampstand in the tent of meeting, opposite the table on the south side of the tabernacle,
  34. 34. Exodus 40:24 As the priests entered the tabernacle, they would come first to the table to present the bread to the LORD. As they looked up from the table, behind the table they would see the lamp stand that would provide light for the tabernacle and would also serve as a reminder that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all. Jesus later said He was the light of the world.
  35. 35. Exodus 40:25 and set up the lamps before the LORD; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  36. 36. Exodus 40:25 The rules that the LORD commanded Moses and all the priests who follow were very practical rules for setting up a place of worship and for conducting sacrificial worship in an orderly manner. Later, these rules with be modified somewhat and adapted to worship in Solomon’s Temple.
  37. 37. Exodus 40:26 He put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the curtain,
  38. 38. Exodus 40:26 In addition to the table for the bread and the lamp stand, God commanded Moses to put a gold altar in front of the curtain that hid the Ark of the Covenant from view during normal times of worship. Only the priests were permitted to dismantle the tabernacle and move it, and only the priests could offer fragrant incense on this table and work in other parts of the tabernacle.
  39. 39. Exodus 40:27 and offered fragrant incense on it; as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  40. 40. Exodus 40:27 Whereas the priests would offer sacrifices to the LORD outside of the tabernacle, the LORD commanded them to burn incense on the golden altar inside the tabernacle. Both were considered offerings to God. The tent of meeting would have been a place worthy of meeting God when everything was completed “as the LORD commanded Moses.”
  41. 41. Exodus 40:28 He also put in place the screen for the entrance of the tabernacle.
  42. 42. Exodus 40:28 The screens served as cloth “doors,” which would effectively keep those who were only curious from looking inside the tabernacle. They would also serve to remind the priests that they were about to enter a holy place and show them the boundaries beyond which they could and could not go. Only the high priest could pass behind the inner curtain and into that part of the tabernacle that contained the Ark of the Covenant.
  43. 43. Exodus 40:28 He set the altar of burnt offering at the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting, and offered on it the burnt offering and the grain offering as the LORD had commanded Moses.
  44. 44. Exodus 40:29 Two offerings were mentioned here that the LORD commanded Moses to offer outside the tabernacle. Offerings were of various types called peace offerings, thank offerings, offerings for the forgiveness of sins, wave offerings, etc.
  45. 45. Lesson God-pleasing worship is always founded on purity and sacrifice (Exod. 40:29-30; cf. Hebrews 10:1-10) Every parent has known the joy of a child’s homemade gift and has cherished it above much of what they own. Those little paintings and scrawled words thrill our soul. It is not the gift but the heart of the giver. So is our worship of God. It is not surprising that God preferred the peace and thanks offerings above the sin offerings.
  46. 46. Exodus 40:30-31 He set the basin between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it for washing, (31) with which Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet.
  47. 47. Exodus 40:30-31 After the priests offered their sacrifices, their hands and feet would be dirty; therefore, God commanded that a basin of water be placed between the altar and the tabernacle for the priests who wash before they entered the tent of meeting. Every aspect of the tabernacle and its parts provided a practical and orderly reason for worship.
  48. 48. Exodus 40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
  49. 49. Exodus 40:34 Because Moses had done everything as the LORD had commanded him, the tabernacle or tent of meeting was ready for the LORD to fill with His presence. The LORD filled the tabernacle and the people saw God’s glory come into His tabernacle. They learned from this experience that God was in their midst and not to be found only on a mountain top or in a cloud or pillar of fire.
  50. 50. Lesson Lesson: The knowledge of God's presence serves as both a comfort and a warning (Exod. 40:34) What do you think when you see a police cruiser in your rear view mirror? What if the lights are flashing? Our first response is to tense and assume we have done something wrong. What do you think when you see the police cruiser going the other way? Do you think someone is in trouble or that help is on the way?
  51. 51. Lesson We condition ourselves unfairly to those in authority. We tend to assume the worst of them. The difference in response depends in part on any police officers we know. Knowledge of them tempers our prejudice. We may even see God unfairly until we take the time to really know Him.
  52. 52. Exodus 40:38 For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.
  53. 53. Exodus 40:38 The LORD visibly demonstrated His presence to the people so they knew the LORD was present with them and with Moses, the prophet of God. In spite of all God did for them and showed them, the people still complained about God to Moses and also complained about Moses and his provision and leadership while they were in the wilderness.
  54. 54. Lesson In every generation, God directs His people (Exod. 40:38; II Tim. 3:16-17) Our children will never truly know how much we have done for them until they have children of their own. We can never really appreciate what God has done for us in this life until we look from the other side. What will amaze us them is how God raised up people and events in each of our generations to aid and lead His children.
  55. 55. Lesson Like parents, much of His support goes unnoticed but unlike parents, His interventions never end. God does not leave a person or a people. He just uses people we might never expect.
  56. 56. Conclusion The tabernacle provided the symbol of God’s rule over them and his dwelling among them. The significance of the tabernacle is especially important for Christians, declares Peter Enns. “Hebrews 3:1—4:13 is an explicit and relatively extensive ‘commentary’ on the Exodus. . . . The basic analogy that the writer of Hebrews draws is that Israel’s desert wanderings correspond to the daily life of the church on its way to ‘Canaan.’”
  57. 57. Conclusion Freed from Egyptian bondage, Israel had God's presence in her midst by means of the tabernacle. Instead of cherubim turning away God's children by means of a sharp sword to guard the way to the tree of life (Genesis 3:24), the Israelites had images of cherubim marking the place of God's presence. Perhaps the candlestick stood for the tree of life as it illuminated the holy place.
  58. 58. Conclusion Jesus declared himself to be the true temple (John 2:19-21; Mark 14:58). The apostle John declared "the Word became flesh and made his dwelling [literally, "tabernacled"] among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). That was Jesus.
  59. 59. Conclusion Christ is the eternal high priest and the perfect sacrifice in an everlasting tabernacle (Hebrews 8:1-10:18). Today all Christians have access to the most holy place (Hebrews 10:19-22). In the New Jerusalem there will be no temple, for "the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple" (Revelation 21:22). Our future is to live in God's immediate presence forever!