The Tabernacle and God’s Presence Israel rejoices at the news of their second chance, and the people enthusiastically support the construction of the tabernacle and all its accompanying liturgical materials (Ex 35-39, much of which repeats the instructions Moses received concerning the tabernacle in Exodus 25-31).
The completion of the tabernacle’s construction is a pivotal moment for Israel, and it is described in a manner strikingly similar to how the first chapter of Genesis described the completion and goodness of God’s work of creation: According to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the people of Israel had done all the work.
And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. And Moses blessed them. (Ex 39:42-43)
This summary sets the work of building the tabernacle in parallel to the work of creation, and Moses is cast in the role of God, seeing that all is good and giving a concluding benediction, or blessing.
This is just one of many subtle echoes to the story of creation made throughout the tabernacle instructions.
For example, the Spirit of God that hovers over the waters in creation is found filling the workmen who will build and decorate the tabernacle.
The gold and precious stones mentioned in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 are found adorning the tabernacle and many of its liturgical instruments. Most significantly, the mercy seat set over the Ark of the Covenant is adorned with two cherubim.
The only other place two cherubim are mentioned is in Genesis, in which they guard the entrance to the Garden of Eden after the Fall.
Thus, the imagery used to describe the creation of the tabernacle evokes the imagery of the original creation and of Eden—which is the first place where God dwelt with his people.
Why evoke the story of creation and Eden at the end of the Exodus? Because God, in calling Israel into the covenant at Sinai, seeks to usher in a new creation.
The tabernacle is a portable Garden of Eden where God dwells with his people.
After creation, God gave Adam and Eve a law, but they rebelled against him and fell by taking the forbidden fruit.
Israel follows in Adam’s footsteps; after receiving the law, Israel transgresses it by worshiping the golden calf.
But this is not the end of the story.
God is merciful and forgiving, a program of restoration and hope is given, and God promises to dwell in the midst of his sinful people.
Thus, the story takes a familiar pattern: CREATION, FALL, AND RESTORATION.
This is the storyline that will be repeated again and again in Israel’s history. What matters now is how Exodus ends.
With the tabernacle built and consecrated and with Aaron and his sons consecrated as priests, the cloud covers the tent and the glory of the Lord fills the tabernacle.
God is present with his people, but it has come at a great cost to Moses.
However, with God in the movable tabernacle, the presence of God on Sinai can remain with Israel wherever she goes.
Israel is free from Egypt, and that freedom has set Israel free for a covenant relationship with Yahweh.
The end of Exodus, Leviticus and Era 3!!!!!
Congratulations! If you’re like me, this is your first time getting through this part of the Old Testament :)
Tomorrow, we start Era 4: Desert Wanderings
The longer that we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, it changes how we think, changes how we see, it changes how we love
METANOIA means to have your mind transformed
NOTHING LIKE GOD’S GRACE and NOTHING LIKE HIS WORD PROCLAIMED does that to us
It’s pretty incredible isn’t it?
Don’t you feel different yet?
We are done with Exodus and Leviticus!
What does this journey end with?
It ends with the Tabernacle in Exodus
Exodus carries the narrative
There have been several chapters where we paused in the narrative and we focused on the minutiae
The priestly garments
The building of the laver (bowl for washing)
The altar of incense
Because of the priority of place of worship
This is so important for all of us going through The Bible
God’s Word is so important
But more important than that is the WORSHIP OF GOD
God’s Word shapes our minds and our hearts
It informs us of who God really is
But how does God shape His people in the Old Covenant?
How does God shape His people in the New Covenant?
GETTING THE WORSHIP RIGHT is so absolutely CRITICAL
This isn’t the last we have heard of the Tabernacle or God’s Law
We will hear more about how God will reveal Himself
We will NEVER be able to replace WORSHIP OF GOD with just HEARING ABOUT GOD
Don’t forget that
As men and women who have been made in His image and likeness, and we have been consecrated to God through Baptism, we are called 100% to WORSHIP HIM
The last words of Exodus talk about the CLOUD COVER of the TENT OF MEETING
The Israelites arranged ordinary, yet good things, UNTIL THEY WERE CONSECRATED
UNTIL THEY WERE SET APART
UNTIL THEY WERE MADE HOLY
Moses anointed these things, and GOD MADE THEM HOLY
Then, the Cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and THE GLORY OF GOD FILLED THE TABERNACLE
So these ordinary things i.e. furniture, lamps, etc. WERE NOW CONSECRATED
And now, GOD IS PRESENT
There is something about all this that should remind each one of us that when it comes to not only HOLY PLACES and HOLY THINGS, but also OURSELVES who are pretty ordinary
We are now CONSECRATED and now we are EXTRAORDINARY
When we have God’s presence with us, THAT IS EXTRAORDINARY
This is so remarkable
Exodus 40:36-37 “Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would go onward; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go onward till the day that it was taken up.”
We realize now that WE WAIT ON THE LORD
When He is ready to move, we move
When He tells us to stay, we stay
Leviticus 27: Votive Offerings
These are some things that were commanded
“You MUST offer this”
Guilt offerings etc
Some Israelites were SO MOVED BY THE LORD that they wanted to give MORE DONATIONS
That’s what these special VOTIVE OFFERINGS were
Only a Levite could work in the Temple
If a person wanted to SERVE THE LORD in the Temple, but they couldn’t, what they COULD DO was offer their work, which would be valued at 60 shekels (age 20-60 male) or 30 shekels (age 20-60 female)
They could even offer an extra animal that wasn’t already dedicated to God
The first born male of every flock or herd already belonged to God, so that would not count as a VOTIVE OFFERING
But if they wanted to offer another animal, that was great and would still be HOLY TO THE LORD
The realness of the dedication of ANYTHING to the Lord is a great thing
How many times can you and I get to the place where we think, “Ok I’m going to give this to the Lord.” ?
Even at the beginning of our day, “God, this is yours and I want to dedicate the beginning of this day to you.”
Then we may have another opportunity to give something else to God
We might feel like we want to take that donation back
But no, IT BELONGS TO GOD and we can’t just take it back
There are some things that ALWAYS belong to the Lord because He asked us to do them
There are other things that we get to do because GOD HAS MOVED OUR HEARTS to offer these things with love
And yet, sometimes we want to take back our hearts
There are so many times where we want to say, “I want to offer X” and we might want to take it back
But God knows our hearts
When and if that happens, God will take our offering and it can’t be taken back from Him