Exodus
Introduction 1-2 Who Perform the Work 3-7 The People Bring Much More Than Enough 8-13 The Colored Curtains 14-18 The Curtains of Goats’ Hair 19 The Coverings 20-34 The Boards and the Bars 35-36 The Veil and Its Four Pillars 37-38 The Screen and Its Five Pillars
Introduction

In this chapter and the following, a second description of the tabernacle follows. This is given according to the actual construction of the tabernacle. God’s Spirit does not suffice by placing a general remark that everything is made according to the precepts the LORD has given Moses.

The fact that all the details are mentioned again is not a useless repetition. It shows that no detail is unimportant. Every repetition is important. It underlines what has been said before and indicates its certainty (cf. Phil 3:11Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things [again] is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.). As God has shown it on the mountain, so it is made, with those materials and in that form. Knowing that something has to happen, and also how it has to happen, is different from doing it and doing it as it was said. This new description shows that God forgets nothing of what is done for Him (Heb 6:1010For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.).


Who Perform the Work

1“Now Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the LORD has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the construction of the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.” 2Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it.

Moses sets to work the men who have received wisdom from the LORD for this purpose. Their competence is reflected in the work they do. That ability is not of their own accord, but of God. This also applies to us, as Paul says: “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as [coming] from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” (2Cor 3:55Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as [coming] from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,). Moses is here a picture of the Lord Jesus. For the construction of the church, the house of God, the Lord Jesus has given gifts (Eph 4:11-1211And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;). These gifts go to work on His command.

Two things are important in every work for the Lord: ability and willingness. Someone can be competent for a work, but if he does not want to use his gift, nothing happens. Sometimes someone must also be encouraged to perform his ministry: “Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it”” (Col 4:1717Say to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it.”).

Anyone who does a work for the Lord will offer that work and its results to Him as a pleasant sacrifice to Him. Thus Paul saw his service in the gospel which he performed in the power “of the grace that was given me from God, to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that [my] offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:15b-1615But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God,16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that [my] offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.).


The People Bring Much More Than Enough

3They received from Moses all the contributions which the sons of Israel had brought to perform the work in the construction of the sanctuary. And they still [continued] bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. 4And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, 5and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the LORD commanded [us] to perform.” 6So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing [any more]. 7For the material they had was sufficient and more than enough for all the work, to perform it.

The whole people of God provide materials for the building. They do that “every morning”. It is good to start the day by bringing our contributions to the construction of the house of God. With us that can happen by offering ourselves and what we have. We make ourselves available and ask the Lord if He wants to use us that day to promote His work. That can be by speaking to someone about the Lord Jesus as Savior. It can also be by going somewhere to encourage someone.

The people are so willing to give that too much is brought. We also see this attitude among the poor believers in Macedonia who are held up by Paul as an example to the Corinthians (2Cor 8:1-51Now, brethren, we [wish to] make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,2that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.3For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, [they gave] of their own accord,4begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints,5and [this], not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.). It is not an order or a commandment. On the contrary. We read from these believers in Macedonia that they begged Paul to favor them to give, in their desire to share in a service performed for other saints. Service is not only ‘serving with the Word’ but also by deed.

Paul can testify of them that they have given as much as they could, yes, that they have given more than they could actually give. They came to this because giving was a favor for them. Giving is a privilege and not a duty. Anyone who sees this in this way is not dependent on his money. The Lord Jesus Himself said that you become happier in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:3535In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”). What the Macedonians gave even exceeded Paul’s expectations.

What secret lies behind such generosity? This is the secret: “They first gave themselves to the Lord” (2Cor 8:55and [this], not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.). Whoever first gives himself to the Lord in complete surrender, has no difficulty in giving away his earthly possessions. Whoever is full of the Lord trusts Him that He can provide all that is necessary, for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains” (Psa 24:11A Psalm of David.
The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it.
).

Are these examples of willingness – from Israel and the Macedonians – not embarrassing for us? By God’s grace and by His Word and Spirit we may know so much more about Who He is; by His grace we have been brought into a much more intimate relationship with Him; we are as a church most intimately connected to the Lord Jesus; we may know that the church is the dwelling place of God in the Spirit – and what do we do with this knowledge? Does it lead us to make all our time, powers and resources available to the Lord Jesus?

The call to us is: “Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not [in] vain in the Lord” (1Cor 15:5858Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not [in] vain in the Lord.). The Lord Jesus says: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Mt 9:37-3837Then He *said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.38Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.”). Someone once said that too much has to be done by too few. That is more indicative of the current situation than the one we find here with Israel. It is to be hoped that today we will follow their example.

Then comes the statement that there is no need to give more. “God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor 9:77Each one [must do] just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.). Giving is His nature. When we give, we act according to His nature. If He finds that enough has been given, He lets you know.

Voluntary gifts are also used for the construction of the temple. David praises the LORD that He has put this voluntariness in his heart and the heart of His people (1Chr 29:1414“But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You.).


The Colored Curtains

8All the skillful men among those who were performing the work made the tabernacle with ten curtains; of fine twisted linen and blue and purple and scarlet [material], with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman, Bezalel made them. 9The length of each curtain was twenty-eight cubits and the width of each curtain four cubits; all the curtains had the same measurements. 10He joined five curtains to one another and [the other] five curtains he joined to one another. 11He made loops of blue on the edge of the outermost curtain in the first set; he did likewise on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the second set. 12He made fifty loops in the one curtain and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was in the second set; the loops were opposite each other. 13He made fifty clasps of gold and joined the curtains to one another with the clasps, so the tabernacle was a unit.

In the description of the tabernacle that the LORD gives Moses in Exodus 25, the ark comes first, for it is most important to God. When constructing the tabernacle the building comes first. This means that the first spiritual lesson that the believer must learn is what the church is. A believer only comes to the knowledge of the truth when he learns to see that he is part of the church of the living God as the house of God, with the Lord Jesus as its center.

The church is “the pillar and support of the truth” (1Tim 3:1515but in case I am delayed, [I write] so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.). When that is recognized, insight will come in the other parts of the tabernacle that are given in the following chapters and represent all kinds of aspects of God’s truth.

The colored curtains are called “the tabernacle”. It is as if this is the actual dwelling place of God, although that applies to the whole building. The colored curtains represent in a special way the multiple facets of the glory of the Lord Jesus, each color representing a certain aspect of his glory. In Him dwells the whole fulness of the Godhead bodily (Col 1:1919For it was the [Father’s] good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,; 2:99For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,) both when on earth and now still. And through the church, “the dwelling of God in the Spirit” (Eph 2:2222in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.), “the manifold wisdom of God” is made known (Eph 3:1010so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places].).

See also Exodus 26:1-6.


The Curtains of Goats’ Hair

14Then he made curtains of goats’ [hair] for a tent over the tabernacle; he made eleven curtains in all. 15The length of each curtain [was] thirty cubits and four cubits the width of each curtain; the eleven curtains had the same measurements. 16He joined five curtains by themselves and [the other] six curtains by themselves. 17Moreover, he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain that was outermost in the [first] set, and he made fifty loops on the edge of the curtain [that was outermost in] the second set. 18He made fifty clasps of bronze to join the tent together so that it would be a unit.

The glory of Christ and its manifestation by the church is seen only by those who enter the sanctuary, these are the priests. The world doesn’t see anything of it. The curtain of goats’ hair is not seen either by the priest or by the people outside. But the priest knows it is there. The New Testament priest also knows the meaning of it. It speaks of the separation from the world. The truth of the separation from the world is also seen only by those who live in the presence of God.

See also Exodus 26:7-13.


The Coverings

19He made a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering of porpoise skins above.

The covering of goats’ hair is covered with a covering of rams’ skins dyed red. That covering was also not seen either by the priest inside or by the people outside. But here too the priest knows it is there and the New Testament priest knows its meaning. It has everything to do with devotion to God. It is the counterpart of the goats’ hair covering. Separation on the one hand must be followed by devotion to God on the other. They complement each other and are both necessary for the house of God to meet the goal, namely that God can dwell in it.

The covering of porpoise skins is visible to the people. It is not beautiful, but it is useful. It protects the tabernacle from heat and storm and rain. For the world, the dwelling place of God has nothing attractive. The world as led by satan is the instrument through which he tries everything to destroy God’s building (cf. 1Cor 3:16-1716Do you not know that you are a temple of God and [that] the Spirit of God dwells in you?17If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.). But God makes sure that the building He builds is protected from “every wind of doctrine” (Eph 4:1414As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;), from every pernicious influence. Our responsibility is to keep sin in doctrine and life outside the church (and our own life!) or to put it out.

See also Exodus 26:14.


The Boards and the Bars

20Then he made the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing upright. 21Ten cubits [was] the length of each board and one and a half cubits the width of each board. 22There [were] two tenons for each board, fitted to one another; thus he did for all the boards of the tabernacle. 23He made the boards for the tabernacle: twenty boards for the south side; 24and he made forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for its two tenons and two sockets under another board for its two tenons. 25Then for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, he made twenty boards, 26and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board. 27For the rear of the tabernacle, to the west, he made six boards. 28He made two boards for the corners of the tabernacle at the rear. 29They were double beneath, and together they were complete to its top to the first ring; thus he did with both of them for the two corners. 30There were eight boards with their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets, two under every board. 31Then he made bars of acacia wood, five for the boards of one side of the tabernacle, 32and five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the tabernacle for the rear [side] to the west. 33He made the middle bar to pass through in the center of the boards from end to end. 34He overlaid the boards with gold and made their rings of gold [as] holders for the bars, and overlaid the bars with gold.

Each board is from the same material, they all have the same length and have the same foundation. Some boards have a special place: they are placed at the corners. All boards are held together by five bars, one of which is fitted in a special way. These characteristics can be applied to believers who are all members of the church without distinction. In this context we can think of the statement of the Lord Jesus: “For one is your Teacher, and you are all brethren” (Mt 23:88But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.). The distinction between ‘clergy’ and ‘layman’ is alien to God’s Word.

However, there is a distinction in gifts: “To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph 4:77But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.). Special gifts were also given by the Lord Jesus with a view to building up His church: “And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:11-1311And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,12for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;13until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.). Although this is not about the church as the house of God, but as the body of Christ, we can connect growth and building (cf. Eph 2:2121in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord,). We should not confuse pictures, but we can see them as a complement to each other.

See also Exodus 26:15-30.


The Veil and Its Four Pillars

35Moreover, he made the veil of blue and purple and scarlet [material], and fine twisted linen; he made it with cherubim, the work of a skillful workman. 36He made four pillars of acacia for it, and overlaid them with gold, with their hooks of gold; and he cast four sockets of silver for them.

A veil is hung between the holy place and the holy of holies. It is called “the second veil” in the letter to the Hebrews, behind which was “a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies” (Heb 9:33Behind the second veil there was a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies,). The holy of holies is the very dwelling place of God, for the ark is there. The high priest may only enter it once a year and not without blood.

For us, the way in the sanctuary is open, as the writer of the letter to the Hebrews teaches us. We may even have boldness to enter. We read: “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh” (Heb 10:19-2019Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,20by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,). This way has therefore been “inaugurated” for us by the Lord Jesus. To inaugurate is to put something new into use. Christ entered the sanctuary first, as a Forerunner, on the basis of His blood.

On the basis of His blood we can now enter and that is “through the veil, that is, His flesh”. God Himself has shown that the way to Him is free by tearing the veil from top, which is from Him, to bottom (Mt 27:5151And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.). Through the flesh of Christ, that is His body, our sins have been done away, and the way into the sanctuary has been opened for us.

See also Exodus 26:31-33.


The Screen and Its Five Pillars

37He made a screen for the doorway of the tent, of blue and purple and scarlet [material], and fine twisted linen, the work of a weaver; 38and [he made] its five pillars with their hooks, and he overlaid their tops and their bands with gold; but their five sockets were of bronze.

A curtain is also hung in front of the entrance to the holy place. Behind this is what the author of the letter to the Hebrews calls “a tabernacle … the outer one” (Heb 9:2a2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which [were] the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.), by which he means the first part of the tabernacle. He goes on to say of this “in which [were] the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place” (Heb 9:2b2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the outer one, in which [were] the lampstand and the table and the sacred bread; this is called the holy place.). In this part, priests are allowed to go there daily to do their service.

See also Exodus 26:36-37.


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