Growing up, I would spend one or two weeks each summer with my grandparents at their home in rural Pennsylvania. There was one fabulous room in the upstairs of their large home where I spent a good amount of time. During the school year my grandmother traveled around this small county and taught Bible classes for children. She had the entire Bible in flannel graph – the background sceneries and all of the various figures and people to tell each Bible story. One summer visit I spent my time studying Exodus and laying out the tabernacle – the wilderness, each piece of furniture, the coverings, and the ornate curtains.
Turning the pages of my Bible to Exodus 25 has taken me on a walk down memory lane this week. There is significance and meaning for every piece and article in the tabernacle. God gave a very precise and detailed plan to Moses for this sanctuary, the place where God desired to dwell in the middle of the children of Israel. The very word, tabernacle, means “to settle down, to abide.”
“And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” ~Exodus 25:8-9 (emphasis mine)
God told Moses that He would provide an exact pattern and the people were to make the tabernacle and each piece of furniture just the way He instructed.
It is a good practice to ask questions when we read God’s Word. Here are some of my questions this week.
- How did God show Moses the pattern of the tabernacle and various pieces of furniture? Was it written on parchment?
- Where did the people get the gold, silver, bronze, colored yarn, and fine linen?
- Who were the skilled craftsmen? How did they learn their specific trades?
God asked Moses to take up an offering (see Exodus 25:2). The children of Israel were asked to give gifts and contribute the various materials God required for the tabernacle. How did these slaves from Egypt accumulate such wealth and so many fine fabrics?
“The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste … The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” ~Exodus 12:33-36
It always makes me smile when I read the sentence, “Thus they plundered the Egyptians.” God moves in the hearts of people to accomplish His purposes. God’s plan included provision of the materials necessary for the construction of the sanctuary where He would dwell with His people.
Also, while the people lived in Egypt as slaves, their Egyptian masters taught them specific trades and skills. The Israelites became excellent craftsmen. Yes, some were common laborers but others learned to work with gold, silver, and bronze. Men created beautiful pieces of furniture. Women spent time at the looms and created beautiful tapestries. Here is just a sample of some of the workmanship that was needed to build the tabernacle:
- Tanner for hides of goats, rams, sheep (Exodus 25:5)
- Jeweler (Exodus 25:17, 31, 36; 28:11)
- Carpentry (Exodus 25:23; 26:15)
- Weaver of tapestries (Exodus 26:1)
- Seamstress (Exodus 28:4ff – priests’ garments)
- Perfumers (Exodus 30:34-38)
God calls us to obedience. He has a plan and a purpose. As He prepared His chosen people for their walk in the wilderness, He also provided all of the materials they would need to construct the sanctuary. My heart has been greatly encouraged this week as I have studied and reflected on these chapters in Exodus. He gives us the instruction and He calls us to “follow the pattern.”
Take some extra time to read about the pieces of furniture that were found in the Holy Place.
- The table for the bread (Exodus 25:23-30) – The table held the bread of the Presence. This bread was laid before the presence of God (12 loaves to represent the 12 tribes of Israel).
- The lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40) – The lampstand provided light for the ministering priests. It also typifies Christ who is the light of the world.
- Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10) – The priest would enter the Holy Place every morning and evening and tend the lamp and incense.
And, think about the significance of the Most Holy Place, or Holy of Holies.
The ark and mercy seat (Exodus 25:10-22) – The ark is a box that held the tablets of the law, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod. The mercy seat is not only the lid for the ark but also the place where the sins were covered (place of propitiation).