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WILLING OFFERINGS FOR GOD'S SANCTUARY
The law has been declared to Israel, with its stern ordinances and regulations. Now the Lord instructs Moses in a matter that is in striking contrast to the principle of law, for all here speaks of grace and blessing rather than law and cursing. Thus, even when God put Israel under law, the grace of His own heart could not refrain from shining through in a remarkable measure.
In this case, God makes no peremptory demand, but tells Moses to speak to the people to the effect that they should willingly with their heart bring an offering to the Lord. There was no question as to how much each should give, nor if they should give at all if their heart was not in it. This must be a fully voluntary offering. The principle here corresponds fully with the principle laid down for the assembly of God today in their giving. 2 Corinthians 8:1-24; 2 Corinthians 8:1-24; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15 deal extensively with this question. Chapter 9:7 is most plain, "So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver." Therefore this offering ofExodus 25:1-40; Exodus 25:1-40 shows that even in the giving of the law God looked beyond the law to the grace that would yet be revealed.
The offering however was of specific materials for the building of the tabernacle. God designated these. There was no place for sackcloth or for people's personal household furniture. Gold is mentioned first, for this symbolizes the glory of God. Then silver pictures the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Copper is typical of the holiness of God, which is an outstanding characteristic of His sanctuary.
Blue material speaks of the heavenly glory of the Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God, as is seen specially in the Gospel of John (SeeJohn 6:32; John 6:32; John 6:37; John 6:50-51; John 6:58). Purple is the royal color, and reminds us of Matthew, which presents Christ as the King of Israel. Scarlet is the color of attraction, which is seen in the lowly, faithful service of the Lord Jesus in Mark's Gospel. Fine linen pictures the beautifully intertwined moral perfection of the Lord Jesus as the unique Man of God's appointment, which is seen in the Gospel of Luke.
Goat's hair (4) calls to mind the sacrifice of Christ as our Substitute, while ram's skins dyed red speak of the same sacrifice in its submission and devotion to God, the red calling special attention to this. Badger skins (or possibly porpoise skins) are of a drab, unattractive color, and they formed the outside covering of the tabernacle, emphasizing the fact that to the natural eye of Israel and the world there appeared to be "no beauty" in the Lord Jesus (Isaiah 53:2).
Acacia wood is from a hardwood desert tree, speaking of the enduring humanity of the Lord Jesus as "a root out of a dry ground" (Isaiah 53:2). Oil for the light is typical of the Holy Spirit. Spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense are the varied fragrances of the Lord Jesus united with the energy of the Holy Spirit (v.6). Onyx stones and other precious stones to adorn the special dress of the high priest symbolize the bright reflections of the many beauties of the Lord Jesus.
All of these things were for the purpose of making a sanctuary for God to dwell in among the children of Israel (v.8). This was temporary in view of the eventual building of the temple by Solomon (1 Kings 6:1-38). In regard to this tabernacle, however, nothing was left to the discretion of Moses. Verse 9 is clear that God Himself decreed the entire pattern of the tabernacle and its furniture, just as God today has laid down the full truth concerning the church of God and all its arrangements. Nothing is left to the wisdom or discretion of any of His saints or servants.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
Before instructions are given for the building of the tabernacle itself, God lays down the plans for the ark, the table of showbread and the lampstand The ark has the place of most prominent importance, for it speaks of Christ as the Sustainer of the throne of God, just as the ark sustained the mercy seat. All the authority of God is therefore seen to be centered in the person of the Lord Jesus.
The ark was made of acacia wood, speaking of the humanity of Christ as a Root out of dry ground. But it was overlaid with gold, which emphasizes His deity, for He is God over all. Its length was two and a half cubits. Two speaks of testimony, for God's throne bears testimony always to what is true. The added one-half is interesting, however. It reminds us of the Queen of Sheba's words to Solomon, "the half was not told me" (1 Kings 10:7). Therefore this indicates that the glory of Christ is beyond human apprehension. The height and width of the ark were each one a half cubits. Therefore in every dimension the glory of Christ exceeds our understanding. The one cubit however speaks of unity. In the authority of God there can be no inconsistency, but one perfect standard of judgment for all.
The ark was a chest overlaid with gold both inside and out. A crown of gold was on the top, crowning the entire circumference. This speaks of the glory the Lord Jesus has now acquired by reason of His sacrifice and His resurrection, that is, He is now "crowned with glory and honor" (Hebrews 2:9) in answer to His willing humiliation.
Because the ark was to be carried by means of staves, there were two rings of gold attached to the ark on each side. The staves were made of acacia wood overlaid with gold, and those were slipped through the rings in order for the ark to be carried. The priests did not touch the ark, but carried it by the staves (vs.12-15). Thus believers have the place of priests in order to carry the Lord Jesus as a testimony before the world. The staves were to remain always in their place. This continued until the temple was built, when we read that "they drew out the staves" (1 Kings 8:8) because the ark was then in its proper resting place.
The testimony God would give Israel (the law written on tables of stone) was to be put into the ark (v.16). This reminds us that in contrast to all others, the Lord Jesus could say, "I delight to do your will, 0 my God, and your law is within my heart" (Psalms 40:8).
THE MERCY SEAT
The mercy seat was made the same length and width as the ark (v.17), but this was pure gold, for it symbolized the throne of God, of which Christ is the capable Sustainer. The same truth applies to its dimensions as is true of the ark. No form was ever seen on the mercy seat, for God is invisible (1 Timothy 1:17). As the throne of God, this represents absolute dominion, authority righteousness, truth, yet amazingly it is called, not the justice seat, but "the mercy seat." Thus from the throne of absolute righteous God is able to dispense mercy. This is marvelous, but only possible because of the truth emphasized on the great day of atonement. for no one could ever enter into the holiest of all where the ark was except the high priest only once a year, when he sprinkled blood seven times before and on the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:1-19). This is typical of the Lord Jesus having made propitiation for our sins on Calvary, having been raised from the dead and entering into heaven itself for us (Hebrews 10:11-12; Hebrews 10:24).
On each end of the mercy seat was a cherubim facing inwards with their wings spread above each one, so that evidently their faces would look downward the mercy seat with their wings overshadowing all (v.20). The cherubim were one piece with the mercy seat, all hammered from one piece of gold (vs.18-19).
Since the cherubim form a part of the throne itself, it is plain they are not angels, or created beings, but purely divine principles of judicial righteousness. Looking down upon the mercy seat would indicate the vital interest that God's righteousness takes in the value of the blood sprinkled on the mercy seat.
The mercy seat formed a covering for the ark, and in the ark was the testimony, the law of God on tables of stone. This was the only seat in the tabernacle, the place where God would meet with Israel, though none of Israel except the high priest once a year, could enter there. From that place God would communicate His mind and will to Moses for the children of Israel (v.22).
Thus, the ark and the mercy seat are seen to be found in beautiful consistency with the character of what is emphasized in the building of the tabernacle. For here we see the heart of God made known in some lovely measure, even in a dispensation which in itself does not make known the heart of God, that is, the law.
THE TABLE OF SHOWBREAD
The table was inside the holy place, on the right side as one entered the tabernacle, but not in the most holy, as the ark was. The twelve loaves that were put on the table (Lev 24:59 speak of communion or fellowship involving the twelve tribes of Israel in their fellowship with the Lord and with one another. Therefore the table is symbolical of the Lord Jesus as the Sustainer of fellowship. This was in the holy place, speaking of heaven itself, Christ therefore glorified in heaven sustaining His saints today in fellowship with the Father and with one another.
Again the Manhood of the Lord Jesus is emphasized by the acacia wood, and His deity by the complete overlaying of gold. Its height was the same as the ark, two and one half cubits. For the upward (Godward) blessing of fellowship is precious beyond our understanding (the one-half), while the two speaks of the value of this as a testimony before God. But both the length and width have no extra half cubit, for our fellowship is limited in both these directions. The two cubits and the one cubit speak similarly of those dimensions in the ark, however.
A molding of gold was to surround the entire circumference of the table, and a frame of a handbreadth (about four inches) was evidently inside the molding (v.24), then another molding on the inside of the frame. The frame likely extended over the legs, and two gold rings were put close to the frame at each end of the table, that is, underneath the frame, so that it could be carried by staves. The staves (or poles) were again made of acacia wood overlaid with gold (v.28)
Dishes, pans, pitchers and bowls used in connection with the table were all made of pure gold, for the fellowship of the saints of God is to be on a divine level, that is, "fellowship with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).
THE GOLDEN LAMPSTAND
The lampstand was placed on the left side of the sanctuary as one entered. This was made of one piece of beaten gold (v.31). The lampstand is distinct from the light, for it is really the light-bearer, and speaks of Christ as the Sustainer of all testimony for God. Light is the very nature of God: "God is light" (1 John 1:5), therefore the humanity of Christ (the acacia wood) is not involved in this at all, but only pure gold. As the eternal Son of God He sustains all testimony for God.
There was a central stem in this stand, and six branches proceeding from that stem, three on either side (v.32), for seven is the number of completeness or perfection.
On each of the six branches there were three cups or bowl shaped ornaments, like almond blossoms, each one evidently nesting a knob (possibly a bud) and a flower (v.33). It is thought likely that this compares with Aaron's rod that "put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds" (Numbers 17:8). The language is not that plain here in Exodus 25:1-40, but the lesson of resurrection is unmistakable. The almond is the first tree in Israel to blossom, speaking of Christ as "the firstfruits" (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).
Although, as we have seen, the pure gold of the lampstand speaks strictly of the deity of Christ, yet His Manhood is inferred when we think of Him in resurrection, for He must be Man in order to die and rise again. We must always remember that the Lord Jesus is one blessed person: though His deity is distinct from His Manhood, yet this same One who is exalted as God over all is the One who died and rose again.
On the central stem there were four of these sets of almond ornaments (v.34). While the number three speaks of the Trinity and also of resurrection, four is the number of earth and may imply that the testimony of God is intended for all the world.
The seven lamps, one at the top of the stem and those at the ends of the six branches, were to be arranged in such a way as to give light that would draw attention to the lampstand itself. It would also shed light on the table of showbread and on the golden incense altar. Thus the light of God shines primarily upon Christ Himself, whether as the Sustainer of the Light, whether as the Sustainer of fellowship, or as the Sustainer of worship, of which the golden altar speaks. He is revealed in all His beauty. Besides this, however, He is the Revealer: He shines for the blessings of others.
The lampstand then portrays Christ as the Sustainer of testimony, of which the light speaks. This testimony must necessarily have its basis in the truth of the Word of God, just as is plainly stated in the words of the Lord Jesus, "You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth" (John 18:37). Also today, any true testimony for God that is carried on by believers, is not sustained by their own energy, but by the Lord Jesus.
Connected with the lampstand there the "wick-trimmers" and trays of pure gold. This is the only indication that believers have any part in connection with the lampstand. They are the wicks, though the wicks themselves are not mentioned, but only the necessity of trimming them. The oil in the lamps speaks of the Holy Spirit of God, without whom we could never continue to burn. But a burned wick must be trimmed in order to burn brightly. The trimmings, put in the trays, could not burn again. Thus we need to judge ourselves constantly, and never depend on former experiences of burning in testimony for the Lord. Those things are to be left behind. The Lord as it were puts them into the trays. He will not forget, but we must burn freshly for Him every day.
The lampstand was formed in one piece out of one talent of gold. At present-day prices, the cost of this would be over $700,000. The measurements of it are not given. As to the pattern, God had shown this to Moses on the mountain, and he was to follow it precisely.
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Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Exodus 25". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13