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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Exodus 25

Preacher's Complete Homiletical CommentaryPreacher's Homiletical

Verses 1-10


Exodus 25:2. An offering.] Trumah, from the root rom, “that which is taken off,” from what has been put by as private property reserved for special enjoyment. Hence the injunction, “of every man whose heart impelleth him,” as there might be some who would not willingly part with what they associated in their hearts as pleasurable enjoyments, for the offering was to consist of choice things. Trumah = offering, also admits of the meaning raised, i.e., to higher purpose, from the very things set apart for earthly pleasures offering should be made for the building of the sanctuary. Gifts coming only from persons whose heart impelleth them had to be the material of which the sanctuary was to be constructed, and in such love-built sanctuary, Jehovah was willing to dwell.

Exodus 25:9. Pattern] = tabnith, model or prototype, conveys the idea that a higher purport than the construction of a temporary tabernacle was the design of that pattern, evidently foreshadowing Him who came and tabernacled among us, and in the tabernacle of our flesh lovingly offered by the blessed Virgin. “Be it unto me according to Thy word” (Luke 1:38).



[1] Most of the sketches on Chapters 25–33 are specially contributed to this Commentary by Rev. W. L. Walkinson.

We are taught here—

I. That whatsoever is done for God must be done willingly. “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering,” Exodus 25:2. The sanctuary was to be built through offerings, not by a tax. “Of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart,Exodus 25:2. There was to be no constraint or coercion. The Hebrew is literally rendered: “On the part of every one whom his heart drove.”—Keil. How noble is service and sacrifice when it is the spontaneous fruit of the spirit! How joyful is such giving and work! The man has not to spur himself, to argue with himself, to just move himself to action and charity by constraint, but his heart drives him, and his work and giving are full of joyfulness. How efficacious such service! A piece of brass touched by a loving soul has more power in it than shekels of gold given by cold hearts and cold hands.

II. That whatsoever is done for God must be our best, Exodus 25:3-7. All things of beauty, preciousness, sweetness, and brightness. We must ever give God our best. Let us be sure that we give Him the best of ourselves—our life in the beauty, sweetness, and preciousness of youth, and not the scraps of a wasted life; let us give Him the best of our powers in seeking to understand His word and worship at His feet; let us not always give Him the smallest coin in our purse; let us not give Him the worthless scraps of our time, or wealth, or ability, or influence; but consecrate to Him the rarest, fairest, brightest gifts of life and fortune.

III. That whatsoever is done for God must be done according to Divine method, Exodus 25:9. And this command is constantly repeated. Let us beware of “will-worship.” God has great reasons for all His commandments, and we must not lightly depart from them. We must carry out God’s work on the lines laid down in God’s Word.

IV. That whatsoever is thus done for God secures a great reward. “And let them make Me a sanctuary: that I may dwell among them,” Exodus 25:8. The people gave of their treasures to erect the tabernacle, and then a Glory shone there full of truth and grace. Whatsoever is done simply and spiritually for God, brings us nearer to God, brings God nearer to us. Let all bring their services and sacrifices to God. The princes gave the jewels (Exodus 35:27), but the poor could give the brass; the rich gave the gold and scarlet, but the common people could give a ram’s or badger’s skin. And if all give their best, God shall bless all alike (2 Corinthians 8:11-12).


Exodus 25:1-10. How befitting the wealthy members of Christ’s Church among us is disinterested liberality; The tabernacle was mainly formed of the spoils of Egypt: should not our worldly gains be hallowed, in greater or less proportion, to the glory and honour of God? The people of Israel brought much more than enough for the service of the works which the Lord commanded to be made. Indeed, Moses gave commandment and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing (Exodus 36:5-6). Only think of a proclamation in Christian England to restrain the liberality of British Churches in the cause and service of their Lord and Saviour! What a rebuke to our too general parsimony is here!

W. Mudge.

Surely, divine philanthropy needs not the excitement and the gaze of notoriety to give it impulse. When the stony rock of the human heart is smitten, and a fountain of living water therein opened, its overflowings will be felt, and the Christian, like Abraham, will become a blessing in the place of his sojourn. Israel’s offering to the tabernacle was a willing offering: and it is the will spiritualised, subdued, and sweetly captivated to the yoke of Christ, that constitutes the seat and source of all true charity. The walls of Jerusalem rose rapidly under Nehemiah and his faithful coadjutors, for the defence and security of the holy city against Sanballat and his arrogant compeers; and the reason assigned for the successful prosecution of their labour is, The people had a mind to the work (Exodus 4:6). With like-mindedness, like results would follow: whereas, without a primary consecration of ourselves to God, our most laborious efforts may prove abortive. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity: for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is principle which the great Father and Giver of all Good chiefly regards in the conduct of His creatures (1 Samuel 16:7). Hence it is, that mites may be inestimable and millions may be contemptible. Look well, then, unto the state of your hearts before God, and let no attention, however sedulous and constant, to the outward custom and duties of religion, make you forgetful of your inward frame. And at the same time, remember, the higher your station in society, the more commanding your influence and wealth may be, still greater responsibilities rest upon you—Ibid.

(1.) The tabernacle then was a type or emblem of Jesus Christ. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt,—or as the original expresses it, tabernacled—among us.” Such a manner of representing the sojourn of the spirit within its tenement of clay, is frequent among the sacred writers. St. Paul calls the body “our earthly house of this tabernacle.” St. Peter declares “that he must soon put it off,” or exchange mortality for life. Even thus, the Saviour spake of His own flesh, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” His body was the vail; and in His incarnation, when He descended from heaven, and became “Emmanuel, God with us,” He shrouded essential Deity in the likeness of our flesh. And as the Most High dwelt visibly within the sanctuary, even on the ark, so did He reside in the human nature and tabernacle of His dear Son: for “in Christ dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” “We beheld His glory, the glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Dark, indeed, had been the tabernacle in the wilderness, unless the Shekinah had shed its radiance through it, and the glory of the Lord had filled it. Dark and dreary had been the humanity of Christ, to the eye of those who looked for salvation through Him, unless, in the humiliation of that external character which exhibited “no beauty that we should desire Him,” they could also behold the ineffable splendour shed forth by the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. God was in “Christ, reconciling the world to Himself.”

(2.) This consideration leads me to add, that the tabernacle was a symbol of every real Christian. God dwelt within the sanctuary in the wilderness. He dwells within every renewed and believing heart. I will set My sanctuary among them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them. Ye are the temples of the living God. In Christ Jesus ye also are builded together for an habitation of God, through the Spirit. In the soul of every true follower of the Saviour does the Father dwell, the object of his worship, the author of his blessings, the principles of his spiritual and everlasting life. And, as the ark held the commandments and kept them from pollution, so must he in whom the Father dwells, and in whom Christ is formed the hope of glory, lay up the law in his heart, and preserve it from pollution.

The tabernacle also typified the Church. It was an emblem of the heavenly temple. “I heard,” said the beloved John, when the consummated felicities of the Redeemer’s Church burst upon him in the visions of Patmos—“I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.” Did He take up His dwelling in their hearts, as over the ark, in the ancient sanctuary? Did His love, His presence, and His Spirit fill their minds, as the Shekinah filled the holy of holies? Oh, then, what will be the splendour of His appearance, when the cloud shall be withdrawn, and His faithful worshippers shall see Him as He is? Glorious things are related of the tabernacle, and glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou temple of the everlasting hills.—Buddicom.



Typology! Exodus 25:1-40. If you hold up your hand between the candle and the wall, what do you see? That shadow of your hand is not, however, of the same size and colour. It is only an outline. Holding up some beautiful object which we have never seen before, its shadow would give but a feeble impression of itself. So Hebrews 10:1 says, that the Law had a shadow of good things to come. Those good things have come; and

“Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,

Sunned himself in heavenly glow;

Seen the glory, heard the music,—

We are wiser than we know.”


Cheerful-Giving! Exodus 25:1.

1. A missionary association having been formed at Huahine, in the South Seas, the native Christians were reminded that they must give “willingly with their hearts” One, however, brought a pig to the treasurer, Huatia, and throwing the animal down at his feet, said in angry tone, “Here is an offering for your society.” Huatia calmly explained to the giver that such offerings were for GOD, not for any Society, and that “GOD loveth a cheerful giver.” He then, to the chagrin of the native, added, “Take it back again, for God does not accept angry gifts.”
2. In Tahiti, on a similar occasion, a person brought a quantity of cocoanut oil to King Pomare, exclaiming in a very bad spirit, “Here are five bamboos of oil; take them for your Missionary Society.” The churlish giver was greatly surprised when Pomare pushed aside his offering with the rebuke, “I cannot mix your angry bamboos with GOD’S oil, so take them away.” As Beecher says, There are some who give as a perennial fountain does, freely and without force, while there are others who resemble a well which requires much pumping.

“See the rivers flowing

Downward to the sea,

Pouring all their treasures

Bountiful and free.”


Church-Contributions! Exodus 25:2-8. A missionary rode one day into a ruined village seeking subscriptions to build a church in the neighbourhood. He called upon a Negro Christian, whom he found living with his wife and family and beneath the fallen roof of his hut, which the earthquake had recently shaken and shattered. On ascertaining the missionary’s object the negro went back to the hut, and from amongst the confusion of overturned furniture brought ten dollars. Struck by this liberal gift, the servant of God remonstrated with the donor, but he promptly replied, “Sir, we must build up God’s house before our own, and get into it, and then our prayers will bring down such a blessing as will soon set all right again.”

“Give, give, be always giving!
Who gives not is not living.

The more you give,
The more you live.”


Free-Will Offerings! Exodus 25:3.

1. An Alpine missionary relates an interesting circumstance of the Christians at Vanvert, in regard to the scheme for erecting a sanctuary there, “Some,” he says, “gave money in francs, some devoted portions of their wearing apparel, some, and these not a few, sacrificed their earrings and necklaces, some could give nothing but a cheese, or a sheep, they were so poor.”

2. This has its parallel in Southern Africa, where, on one occasion, to build a church, the natives contributed oxen, cows, sheep, goats; also horns, skins, ostrich feathers, eggs, &c. Of them, St. Paul might say, “Their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality; for to their power, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves, praying us with much entreaty that we would receive their gift” (1 Corinthians 8:3). Then

“Give! as the morning that flows out of heaven;
Give! as the waves when their channel is riven;
Give! as the free air and sunshine are given;

Lavishly, utterly, joyfully give.”

Israels’-Gifts! Exodus 25:4-7.

1. Bush remarks that the hair of the Eastern goats, particularly that of the Angola species, is of the most delicate and silky softness, and wrought into the kind of cloth known by the name of camlets.
2. Thomson relates that the vast flocks which annually come from Armenia and Northern Syria are nearly all males, and that the leather, therefore, is literally rams’ skins dyed red.
3. Macmillan says that the spices here were to perfume the oil. It was composed of two paris of myrrh, two parts of cassia, one part cinnamon, and one part sweet calamus, with a sufficient quantity of the purest olive oil to give it the proper consistency.
4. Spices were also used in making the incense; and, according to rabbinical tradition, a priest or Levite, one of the fifteen prefects of the temple, was retained, whose special duty it was to prepare this precious compound. So precious and holy was this “sweet incense” considered, that it was forbidden to make a similar perfume for private use on pain of death.

“Man is the world’s high priest; he doth present
The sacrifice for all; while they below
Unto the service mutter an assent,
Such as springs use at fall, and winds that blow.”


Ark-Speech! Exodus 25:10-17. God gives preeminence to the ark; as the heart and core of all religion.

1. It tells us in language clear and emphatic that Christ should fill up the foreground of each thought and word of ours, that no reserve, no unworthy veil should obscure the brightness of His smile, and that no man should hide Him in the rear.
2. It also tells us that underneath the seeming barrenness of the Mosaic tabernacle details lie hidden many precious truths—hidden for man to search for—hidden, that when sought and found, man may taste the sweetness of discovery and possession. We, therefore, should not forget that

“The roots of fairest bloom lie sometime hidden
The deepest underneath the soil; that stones
Of purest crystal are from gloomiest mines.”


Shittim-Wood! Exodus 25:10. Dr. Shaw says that the acacia, being by far the largest and most common tree of these deserts, there is good reason to conjecture that the shittim-wood, of which the several utensils of the tabernacle were made, was that of the acacia. The tree abounds with flowers of a globular shape, and of an excellent smell; which is another proof of its being the Scripture shitta tree. The name is derived from the Hebrew verb shata, because the sharpness of its spines made animals decline or turn aside. This plant is so hard and solid as to become almost incorruptible. In the prophecies of Isaiah, it is joined with the myrtle and other sweet smelling plants.

“The cedar waved its arms of peaceful shade,
The vine embraced the elm, and myrtles flower’d
Among the fragrant orange groves.”

Ark-Symbolism! Exodus 25:10. St. John tells us that with enraptured eye, he beheld the Temple of God opened in heaven, and saw therein the ark of God’s testament (John 11:19). The veil had been rent at Christ’s death; therefore its snowy surface, with richly inwrought cherubic figures of scarlet and gold, no longer concealed the holiest of all from view. The covenant-ark is visible. John gazes on this familiar symbol so often and so long associated with the fortunes and the history of the Hebrew people, the palladium of their liberties, the rallying-point in every hour of disaster. It had now, however, a deeper significance as the type of the great Propitiatory—the true ark of testimony. In the glories of His Divine Person, says Macduff, and in the fulness of His mediatorial work, Jesus is set in the heavenly temple, the pledge and guarantee of eternal safety and peace to the Church purchased with His blood. I thank thee

“For countless mercies from Thy hand, my God,

Which never cease;

For each sprinkling of that cleansing blood

Which speaketh peace.”

E. C. C. B.

Verses 10-17



The ark of the covenant, containing the two tables of the testimony, was itself a symbol of its contents. It symbolised—

I. The graciousness of the law. The chest was covered with gold (Exodus 25:11). Law is generally used as the antithesis of grace; but, really, the law in its inmost essence is love. Men speak sometimes of the “beautiful” laws of nature—the laws of the moral universe are beautiful also. The law is “good”—generous, just, unchallengeable—the expression of essential purity and kindness.

Moral law has become terrible in our eyes, because we have broken it and felt its penalty; but as we are forgiven and restored to purity and understanding, the moral law ever becomes more gracious and precious in our sight. The law was borne in a chest of gold, not of iron, for the law is not a harsh rule of life, propounded by despotism, but the rule of action delivered by Eternal Wisdom and Love to secure the protection and happiness of the whole universe. There is only what is tender and generous on the first table! God asks not from us blood, sweat, and tears, but love. And only the spirit of a noble justice and a generous love breathes in the second table.

II. The immortality of the law. The ark was made of acacia wood—an incorruptible wood. The moral law abides for ever. When Christ came it was not to destroy, but to fulfil this law. His sacred humanity was the golden ark in which the moral law was republished with living power. All those systems which seek to abolish or relax the moral law, whether they are found within the Christian Church or without it, are intensely anti-Christian. This law is the law of the eternal universe. The fashion of the world passeth away, but the word of the Lord endureth for ever. Heaven and earth may pass away, but not a jot or tittle of the law shall perish.

III. The supremacy of the law. “And shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about” (Exodus 25:11). This law is sovereign. All must bow to it. The angel that keeps it not is cast from heaven. The kingdom that will not bow to it is broken. The life that will not obey it is damned. Blessed are all those who keep it, but woe to all who despise it. Let us remember this in our outward life of business, pleasure, politics, society; let us remember it in our inner life of imagination, thought, and passion.

IV. The holiness of the law. This is set forth by the fact that the staves of the ark were “not to be taken from it” (Exodus 25:15). So that there was no need for the ark to be touched. The law of God is glorious in holiness, and is not to be touched by us. How mixed are the graceful fables of Greece, the mythologies of India, the moral systems of China, the visions of Mahomet! But this law is altogether pure and sublime. Nothing must be added to it—nothing must go into the ark besides it; nothing must be taken from it. It stands alone, the sublime manifestation of the mind and character and purpose of God.

1. Let the priests sustain the law. It was the duty of the priests to carry the ark, and it is the duty of the priests still to sustain, to hold up, to magnify the law.

2. Let the people follow the law. The ark directed the steps of Israel. Where the law does not lead us, let us not go: where it directs the way we shall be right and safe and happy.


Exodus 25:10 to Exodus 17:1. With reference to the ark, we believe that, in its materials, construction, and use, it might point to our Lord Jesus Christ as the true ark of the everlasting covenant; uniting in Himself the divine and human natures, and exhibiting in His life a most perfect conformity to all requirements of God’s just and holy law. “Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not but a body hast thou prepared Me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sins Thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me [namely, in Psalms 40:6-8], I delight to do Thy will, O God: yea, Thy law is within my heart” (Hebrews 10:5-7). Jesus Christ, then, is the grand depository of the Father’s will. The costliest and most exquisite productions of human art, although shittim-wood and gold alone may enter into their composition, afford but imperfect resemblances of the person and work of our glorious Immanuel. An understanding that is infinite; a power that is almighty; a love that is inestimable, and a mercy that is boundless and endless as eternity, combined to prepare a body for the Son of God (Luke 1:35). No worm might corrode His flesh; no stain might soil His spirit. All was incorruptible and pure in the world’s Redeemer.

W. Mudge.



Typology! Exodus 25:1-40. If you hold up your hand between the candle and the wall, what do you see? That shadow of your hand is not, however, of the same size and colour. It is only an outline. Holding up some beautiful object which we have never seen before, its shadow would give but a feeble impression of itself. So Hebrews 10:1 says, that the Law had a shadow of good things to come. Those good things have come; and

“Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,

Sunned himself in heavenly glow;

Seen the glory, heard the music,—

We are wiser than we know.”


Ark of Testimony! Exodus 25:11. It is God’s will that His Son should be set forth without a cloud, in full-orbed splendour. Hence, He first shows that which shows Him most clearly.

1. It was for the ark that the Holy Tent was reared—that the holiest place was set apart. As the richest jewel in the sacred casket, as the topstone of the hallowed pile, is the Covenant-Ark given precedence.
2. It exhibits Christ in its substance of wood and gold—as the ark of redemption—as very man, and spotless man, conjoined with perfect Deity.

3. It testifies to the kingship of Christ in the crown that surrounds its summit; for He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

4. It speaks of Christ abiding as the inmate of the faithful heart, but passing on if not heeded; for the staves might not be taken out.

“Jesus, Master! I am Thine;

Keep me faithful, keep me near;

Let Thy presence in me shine,

All my homeward way to cheer.

Jesus! at Thy feet I fall—

Oh, be Thou my ALL IN ALL.”

Mercy-Seat! Exodus 25:17 to Exodus 23:1. A lid is placed above the Ark for the purpose of hiding the Law from every eye. The requirements of the Law are very long and wide, their breadth embracing the whole of each man’s life. But Christ covers the vast dimensions of the requiring and condemning code; for an exact covering conceals all claims.

2. A lid of solid gold is made, because mercy has no birthplace but in heaven. And what is mercy but Christ in His finished work? He is, says Law, the mirror of God’s loving heart—the pinnacle of tender grace. He is the mountain towering above mountains, in which every grain is God’s goodness.

“While reason, like a Levite, waits

Where priest and people meet,

Faith, by a ‘new and living way,’

Hath gained the Mercy-Seat.”

Mercy-Model! Exodus 25:17. Our Lord said, “Be ye merciful, as your Father also in heaven is merciful.”

1. Sterne says somewhat strongly that while we may imitate the Deity in all His attributes, mercy is the only one in which we can pretend to equal Him. We cannot, indeed, give like God; but surely we may forgive like Him.

2. Richter says, When thou showest mercy, the man who has pierced thy heart stands to thee in the relation of the sea-worm that perforates the shell of the oyster, which straightway closes the wound with a shining, precious pearl.

“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.”


Cherubims! Exodus 25:18. The form of the cherubim used in the tabernacle is uncertain. From the other descriptions of these symbolic figures in Scripture, we perceive that while the same type was adhered to, the details of the form varied.

1. Fairbairn considers them to have symbolised the fulness of life, i.e., life most nearly and essentially connected with God-life, as it is or shall be held by those who dwell in His immediate presence—preeminently, therefore, spiritual and holy life.

2. Brown is of opinion that these cherubim represent the redeemed themselves, preoccupied in the holy and delightful exercise of meditation upon the mysteries of grace—the same beings as were inwrought upon the Cherubic Veil.
3. Law says that, being of the same material as the Mercy-Seat, and indeed of one piece, they teach that the heirs of life have no dependence but on Christ; that they are one with Him, partakers of the Divine nature; and that their expanded wings indicate the devoted and ever-ready zeal of believers to serve God.

4. A reference to these has been found in Song of Solomon 6:12 : “The chariots of My willing people.” During the Gospel and Millennial, and even in the Eternal, ages, Christ will be borne abroad—

“Himself the Bridegroom on the right of power,
Where in the heaven of heavens He sate embosom’d,
All in His Glorious Majesty, and deign’d
Ascend the chariot of Omnipotence,
Borne onward by cherubic shapes.”

Mercy-Mirror! Exodus 25:21. Trapp quaintly says that in the heaven-bow there are many wonders. Amongst these are its beautiful shape and various colours. It also has two contrary significations; fair weather and foul. It is a monument of God’s justice in drowning, and of God’s mercy in delivering the world. The Jews have an odd conceit, that the name JEHOVAH is written on it. Whenever, therefore, they behold its lovely arch they hide their eyes, confess their sins, and adore the Divine Mercy. But the rainbow is not visible after nightfall. Mercy is like it; we must never look for it when night has gathered. It shines not in the other world. If we refuse mercy here, says Le Bas, we shall not find it spanning the dark vault of death and hell. Mercy’s bow is only visible NOW, Justice—

“Doth bend itself into a hollow shroud,
On which, when MERCY doth but cast her face,
A thousand colours do the Bow enchase.”


Throne of Grace! Exodus 25:22. Ballow says that between the humble and contrite heart and the Majesty of heaven there are no barriers. The only password is Prayer.

1. It is, however, a blood-besprinkled mercy-seat before which the soul prostrates itself in supplication. There God is present to hear, answer, and bless. There He will open all His heart, and deal, as friend with friend, in all the freeness of familiar love.
2. The Mosaic throne of grace has disappeared. But Christ ever lives. In Him the Throne of Grace cannot be moved. Essential blessings have eternal life; and he who passes often to it through the parted veil, will return laden with blessings—rich in grace—refreshed with heavenly converse and meet for a heavenly home.

“How dreary and how lonely
This changeful life would be,
Without the sweet communion,
The secret rest with Thee!”

Table of Shewbread! Exodus 25:23.

1. A carved representation of this is visible on the famous Arch of Titus. In height it was to be coequal with the ark, whilst the measure of its length and breadth were to be less. The substance also was identical; the inner frame being incorruptible acacia wood, the outer case shining in the chaste splendour of pure gold.

2. The rings mentioned in Exodus 25:22 were not found in the table which was afterwards made for the Temple, nor indeed in any of the sacred furniture where they had previously been, except in the Ark of the Covenant. These rings were for the insertion of the staves to carry it from place to place during the wilderness wanderings.

3. Many see in this table a type of the Divine-human nature of Christ. He is the one full table which is ever full. And as the thought and plan of the shewbread table were wholly from above, and of no human pattern or design, so Christ is the offspring of full grace, and comes forth from God.

“I would rejoice for all that Thou hast given in Christ to Me,—
For grace, and peace, and gladdening hope of heaven,

Not bought, but FREE.”

Verses 17-23



The Lord Jesus Christ is the true mercy-seat; the piece of temple furniture in the text is the shadow of which Christ is the substance.

I. In Christ the mercifulness of the Divine nature is fully declared. The Old Testament is ever celebrating the mercy of God. Some contend that the God of the Old Testament is an inexorable and cruel deity, but the inmost idea of the whole dispensation is that of the Divine mercifulness (Exodus 20:6). This glorious idea runs through the whole of their worship; the whole ceremonial culminates on the golden mercy-seat. And this idea also runs through the whole of their literature. But in Christ we have the clear, full declaration of the mercifulness of God. Thus Zacharias: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, to perform the mercy promised to our fathers” (Luke 1:68-72). The mercifulness of God is hinted in nature; it is more clearly made known in Mosaism; it is finally and fully declared in Jesus. Mercy for the worst (Luke 19:10); mercy for all; mercy through all generations. The Cross of Christ is the true rainbow in the black cloud which hangs over the destinies of the world.

II. In Christ the mercifulness of the Divine nature is manifestly reconciled with the claims of truth and righteousness (Exodus 25:18-20). The cherubims over the mercy seat symbolise the fact, that the extension of mercy to mankind is justified in the eyes of the heavenly universe. When man fell, the cherubims were the witnesses of his guilt and of his exclusion from paradise (Genesis 3:24), and now they are the consenting witnesses to his forgiveness and restoration. Some speak as if it were a very easy thing for God to show mercy to a world of sinners, but Revelation throughout reminds us that it was not such an easy thing as sentiment suggests. The claims of truth and righteousness were to be sustained. These conflicting claims are reconciled in Christ. God shows mercy in the Cross without sacrificing truth (Exodus 25:21). The law is the basis. Although God pardons sinners, the truth is honoured. God shows mercy in the Cross without sacrificing righteousness. The golden mercy-seat, sprinkled with blood, tells how the holiness of God was vindicated by the death of Christ (Romans 3:19-27). The universe of glory looks down with wondering, consenting eyes upon the resumption of the world in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:12).

III. In Christ alone will the Divine mercifulness be extended to guilty men (Exodus 25:22). There would God meet with Israel, and there alone. God will only save and bless men through Christ crucified. There is no other name given by which men can be saved.

1. We all need mercy. Where is the man who can stand before God on the grounds of justice?
2. We may all find mercy. There is no exception. The mercy of Christ is infinite, universal, everlasting.
3. Let us so seek this mercy that we may find it. Come to the mercy-seat with penitence, renouncing all sin; come with a bold faith.


Exodus 25:17-23. Then, again, we have to remark as to the meaning of the word “mercy-seat;” it literally signifies “covering.” The mercy-seat was a complete covering; it came between the law and God. The law condemned the people who had broken that law; when God commanded the mercy-seat to be placed over it, it was as if He had said, Cover it, I will not look upon it; it would be impossible to look upon it without reading, as it were, in blazing letters, the condemnation of My beloved people. This is just what God has condescended to say in another place, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more,” or, as we have it again in the 103d Psalm, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.”

W. H. Krause, M.A.



Typology! Exodus 25:1-40. If you hold up your hand between the candle and the wall, what do you see? That shadow of your hand is not, however, of the same size and colour. It is only an outline. Holding up some beautiful object which we have never seen before, its shadow would give but a feeble impression of itself. So Hebrews 10:1 says, that the Law had a shadow of good things to come. Those good things have come; and

“Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,

Sunned himself in heavenly glow;

Seen the glory, heard the music,—

We are wiser than we know.”


Verses 28-30



This table, with its burden and furniture, must be regarded in a two-fold sense. It teaches—

I. That all life springs from God. These loaves on the golden table certainly signify the fact that out of the love of God comes the sustenance of man.

1. God is the supporter of our natural life. The golden table reminds us of the golden harvest which God gives for the preservation of the world. As the loaves were continually renewed, so from year to year does God give us rain and fruitful seasons, filling the heart of man with food and gladness. But,

2. God is the giver of spiritual nourishment to the world of souls. Man lives not by bread alone, but by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God. This is the heavenly bread which is given in Jesus Christ.

(1.) The shewbread was made of the finest of the flour, and in Christ we have the pure spiritual truth for which the soul longs (Isaiah 55:2).

(2.) The number of the loaves, twelve, indicate the fulness of the provision that there is in Christ for the soul. It satisfies the intellect, the affections, the conscience. He “satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalms 107:9).

(3.) The continued renewal of the bread signifies the everlasting power and grace of Christ. It always satisfies—it satisfies for ever (John 6:35; John 6:51). In Christ we have not a hollow shape of old history, not a phantom shape of the imagination, but food for the heart and life—a living, loving, personal, strengthening Saviour. “Whoso eats His flesh and drinks His blood hath eternal life.”

II. That all life must be consecrated to God. These loaves were to lie before the face of Jehovah as a meat-offering presented by the children of Israel (Leviticus 24:8). The frankincense sprinkled upon the bread, or consumed over it, indicated that it was offered up to God, and thus all life must be consecrated to God. It comes from Him, and it must be yielded up to Him. Fully given to Him—constantly given up. To Him must ever go up the offering of our love, the incense of our worship, the sacrifices of our obedience. The table of pure gold on which the loaves stood may well suggest the pure heart, without which all our gifts and services are rejected. The cans, cups, dishes, &c, of the table, all of pure gold, remind us that we must keep our members as instruments of righteousness unto God, and that all our gifts and possessions, all the associations and details of life, must be holy and undefiled.


Exodus 25:23 to Exodus 30:1. Fine flour was to form the ingredient of the bread, and even this was to pass through a fiery ordeal in its preparation: thus the very purest bread must furnish the table of the holy place. See we not here the impressive import of the words, My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven? The bread of God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world (John 6:32-33). Inconceivably fine and free from all impurity is this bread. Still, it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isaiah 53:10). The Son of God passes through most appalling trial in order to the demonstration of His glorious perfection (Hebrews 2:10); and, blessedly to observe, every succeeding humiliation and sorrow, though deepening in agony and increasing in intensity at every step, endured by Jesus Christ, does but leave Him more triumphant in righteousness and glorious in holiness.—W. Mudge.

We observe another direction which God gave with regard to the table of shewbread. God said to Moses, “Thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread”—not mixed up with it, but “on the bread, for a memorial.” The “pure frankincense” was to be placed on the “pure table.” The sweetness of that provision which God has made for His people is here set before us. We want this idea to be fastened on our minds, dear brethren, that Jehovah is as much delighted with that which is the food and nourishment of His people, as they themselves can be, when they find their wants satisfied to the very utmost. There is such communion, such oneness between God and His Church, that the very thing His people want is the very thing in which He Himself takes de light. So that when the believing soul feeds upon Jesus, the bread of life, this, like sweet incense, comes up with acceptance before the Lord.

Observe the two ideas suggested by this continual placing of bread before the Lord. First, it was the very food which God provided for His people; it was abundantly good food for them, and it was always the same. Just as it is said of the manna, “The children of Israel did eat manna forty years”—all the time of their wilderness history. A spiritual appetite will always like the same food, even the Lord Jesus Christ.

But there is a second idea suggested by the continual placing of this bread before the Lord. You mark there was provision made for all the tribes. Not one of the Lord’s people shall want the spiritual food that is best for them. God is bound, by everlasting covenant engagements, to nourish and to feed all His people. Not one of them shall ever complain that good food has not been provided for him. According to the greatness of our wants, the Lord will abundantly satisfy our necessities. This is a truth which the Lord’s people are very slow to receive. We look at others, and we say, Oh, if I had the faith, the love, the diligence of such or such an individual in the family of God, all would be well. Depend upon it, brethren, the Lord knows how to satisfy all His people with the food that is best for them.—W. Krause.



Typology! Exodus 25:1-40. If you hold up your hand between the candle and the wall, what do you see? That shadow of your hand is not, however, of the same size and colour. It is only an outline. Holding up some beautiful object which we have never seen before, its shadow would give but a feeble impression of itself. So Hebrews 10:1 says, that the Law had a shadow of good things to come. Those good things have come; and

“Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,

Sunned himself in heavenly glow;

Seen the glory, heard the music,—

We are wiser than we know.”


Shewbread! Exodus 25:30.

1. Literally it means “bread of faces,” or “bread of presence,” from being always set before the face and presence of God. This bread was composed of twelve unleavened loaves, which were sprinkled over with frankincense, and, it is stated in the Alexandria version, with salt likewise. Jahn says that they were placed in two piles, one above another, and were changed every Sunday by the priests.
2. Law says that faith knows this emblem well, having often sat at the feet of Jesus with rapture, and heard Him say, “I am the Bread of Life.” The numbered bread is a clear picture of the numbered Church, whose members sit together with Christ in heavenly places, on whom rests the constant fragrance of His infinite merits. The ministers of Christ every Sunday place Christ before their flocks,—ever the same, yet ever new.
3. Gray sees in this presence-bread the tribute of Christian hearts; the outflow of our gratitude. As flowers carry dewdrops, trembling on the edges of the petals, and ready to fall at the first waft of wind, or brush of bird; so the heart should carry its beaded words of thanksgiving, and at the first breath of heavenly flavour let down the shower, perfumed with the heart’s gratitude.

“Angels, help us to adore Him,

To behold Him face to face;

Sun and moon bow down before Him,

Dwellers all in time and space,

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Praise with us the GOD OF GRACE.”


Verses 31-40



Christ is the “light of the world,” and His Church is the lamp-holder, the light-bearer. What does the candlestick teach in respect to the Christian Church?

I. The necessity of purity, if the Church is to diffuse the knowledge of Christ.

1. “The candlestick must be of pure gold,” Exodus 25:31. Again, Exodus 25:36, an impure Church cannot keep the light, and diffuse the light (Revelation 2:5). Here the Ephesian Church is warned that if they do not repent and amend, the light that is in them shall become darkness. An impure ministry cannot shed this light long. And, personally, if we are to be evangelists we must be pure.

2. The Church must be really pure. “Of beaten work shall the candlestick be made,” Exodus 25:31. It was to be solid, not hollow. The goodness of the Church, the minister, &c., must not be formal and ceremonial, but real and heart-felt.

3. And the lowest workers and instruments for Christ must be holy. Tongs and snuff dishes must be of pure gold. We are taught—

II. The grand mission of the Church of Christ. It is a candlestick—its great mission is to diffuse light. We see sometimes all pains taken with the candlestick—in its ornamentation, &c.,—and it is forgotten that the end of a candlestick is to give light. A church is grand architecturally, but what of that if it is not a light-giving centre? A ministry is eloquent, but what of that if it does not shed the clearer light which leads us to the Lamb? Exodus 25:37. We are reminded—

III. That the Church must declare the whole counsel of God as made known in Jesus Christ. The candlestick was seven-branched, Exodus 25:32. There is completeness and fulness of light in Christ, and the Church must seek to set forth fully the manifold light of the Gospel. On matters of belief and matters of duty, our relations to God and man, body and soul, this world and the next. Let nothing deter us from making known the whole counsel of God.

We are reminded—

IV. Of the beautiful fruits which will spring forth under the shining of Christian truth, Exodus 25:33-35. Flowers and pomegranates. Beautiful flowers and sweet fruits are the creations of the light. Thus, if the Church is faithful, the wilderness around her shall bloom. We are reminded—

V. Of the constant vigilance which the Church must exercise to keep the truth undimmed. In Exodus 25:38 we read of tongs and snuff-dishes. Let us watch, and carefully remove whatever would dim the shining of the light of Christ. Discipline in the Church; discipline in ourselves.


Exodus 25:31-40. The candlestick of pure gold comes next in order, for God’s priests need light as well as food; and they have both the one and the other in Christ. In this candlestick there is no mention of anything but pure gold. “All of it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.” “The seven lamps” which “gave light over against the candlestick,” express the perfection of the light and energy of the Spirit, founded upon and connected with the, perfect efficacy of the work of Christ. The work of the Holy Ghost can never be separated from the work of Christ.

C. H. M.

Moreover, it is not a partial statement even of Divine truth that will suffice for the edification of the Church or of the nation. Not one or more of the seven lamps of the seven-branched candlestick must burn apart from others: all must burn together, and send their commingled blaze in combined and united radiancy around her holy place. A mutilated Bible, or a book of garbled extracts in the place of the Bible, ought to be the wonder and the grief of Christendom.—W. Mudge.



Typology! Exodus 25:1-40. If you hold up your hand between the candle and the wall, what do you see? That shadow of your hand is not, however, of the same size and colour. It is only an outline. Holding up some beautiful object which we have never seen before, its shadow would give but a feeble impression of itself. So Hebrews 10:1 says, that the Law had a shadow of good things to come. Those good things have come; and

“Man has gazed on heavenly secrets,

Sunned himself in heavenly glow;

Seen the glory, heard the music,—

We are wiser than we know.”


Candlestick! Exodus 25:31.

1. Macduff says that this unquestionably denotes the Church of Christ, just as do the golden candlesticks in Revelation

2. There, we are taken back to the sacred furniture—to the one candlestick with its branches or lamps. We are also reminded of the similar beautiful and suggestive vision of the prophet Zechariah, when he saw the candlestick all of gold, with its seven lamps, fed from the upper reservoir of holy olive oil, in Exodus 4:2. The priest attending to its lamps symbolises Jesus, the great High Priest. In Revelation

3. He is represented as moving in their midst, their common bond of union. It is no longer one planet, but a system, of which He is the glorious sun and centre. The light of the world is Christ. No candlestick, no Church shines of itself; from Him its light emanates.

“Come nearer, Sun of Righteousness! that we,

Whose swift short hours of day so swiftly run,

So overflowed with love and light, may be

So lost in glory of the nearing Sun,

That not our light, but Thine, the world may see,

New praise to Thee through our poor lives be won.”


Candlestick-Branches! Exodus 25:32.

(1.) Elliot says that the seven branches were removable from the central chandelier; perhaps to typify how, under the Gospel Dispensation, the Church would lose the form of visible unity that it had possessed under the Jewish, and be scattered in its different branches over the world.

(2.) Law, on the other hand, says that Christ is the seven-lamped candlestick, and that the holy place wherein it shone, symbolises that heavenly home in which Christ is the full light. “The Lamb is the light thereof” (Revelation 21:23). The branches shine as clustered trees of fruit and flowers, to indicate the exquisite loveliness and surpassing fruitfulness of Christ.

(3.) Trench says that the Jewish tabernacle lamp was symbolic of the Church of God in its relation to the kingdom and economy of Israel. That ancient Church for ages stood alone in the earth as the Divine “lightgiver.” But no sooner did the Jewish Dispensation cease, than the tabernacle lamp-branches were separated into lamps, to signify the essential unity, though external diversity of the Church.

“And so the Church of Jesus Christ,

The blessed Banyan of our God,

Fast rooted upon Zion’s mount,

Has sent its sheltering arms abroad;

And every branch that from it springs,

In sacred beauty spreading wide

As low it bends to bless the earth,

Still plants another by its side.”


Candlestick-Beam! Exodus 25:37.

(1.) The sevenfold branches support sevenfold lamps. Each summit is a coronet of fire. Little would be the profit of the costly frame unless light sparkled from it. But its special purpose is to burn—to lighten the darkness that otherwise would shroud the holy place of the Church. And the mystic number, as well as the constant blaze, speak to the Church that her “light should ever shine a perfect light.”
(2.) The ancient insignia of the Waldensian Church was a candlestick, with a light shedding its rays across the surrounding darkness, and encircled with seven stars and the motto, “Lux lucet in tenebris. As the light of Christ shines in the darkness of the Church, so the Church thus enlightened shines in the darkness of the world. “Ye are the light of the world.”

(3.) Every believer shines in a world lying in darkness; therefore he should guard and tend his light, not only to lead himself, but all whom he can influence from the outer darkness of the world to the marvellous light of heaven. “If the light in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!” It is a total eclipse within and without—a blackness of darkness for ever.

“He that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun)
Himself is his own dungeon.”


Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Exodus 25". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/phc/exodus-25.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.
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