Exodus 25 - Supplies and Directions for the Tabernacle
A. The supplies for this building project.
1. (1-2) God tells Moses to ask for an offering.
a. Before God tells Moses what the offering is for, He tells Moses to take an offering; God wants Israel to be motivated more by a willing heart than a specific need.
i. We don't primarily give because of a need; we primarily give because our willing hearts compel us.
b. God can use any method of providing He desires; but He usually uses the willing hearts of His people as the means of supporting His work.
i. This is because God wants to develop giving hearts within us; when we are givers, we are becoming like God, who is the greatest giver: For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16).
ii. We must be givers then, not so much because God or the church needs our money, but because we must be givers like God is a giver.
c. God only wanted contributions from those who would give willingly with his heart; in the New Testament, this idea is echoed in 2 Corinthians 9:7: So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
d. The offering didn't belong to Moses, it didn't belong to the elders, it didn't belong to Israel itself. God says you shall take My offering; the offering belonged to God, and was held by Moses and the nation as in a trust.
2. (3-7) The specific materials to be gathered.
a. Each of these materials will be used in building a structure God will command; each of these materials has a symbolic or a spiritual representation relevant to the building.
b. Blue: Derived from the dye of a shellfish, seemingly in several different hues.
c. Purple: Derived from the murex snail; a purple-red color.
d. Scarlet: Derived from the dried and powdered eggs and bodies of a particular worm (coccus ilicis) which attaches itself to the holly plant.
e. Fine linen: This term translates an Egyptian word; the Egyptians knew (and undoubtedly taught the Jews) how to make fine linen. In the finest modern linens, there are 86 threads per inch; in Egyptian tombs they have found linen with 152 threads per inch.
f. Coverings from goat hair were ususally black and coarse, similar to our modern felt.
g. Rams' skins would customarily have the wool removed and would be like fine leather.
h. Badger skins may also be "porpoise" or "sea cow" skins.
i. Acaicia wood is harder and darker than oak; it is avoided by wood-eating insects.
j. The present day value of the materials used in the tabernacle would total more than $13 million; their combined weight would be almost 19,000 pounds.
3. (8-9) The purpose and pattern of the tabernacle.
a. The purpose of the tabernacle was to be the dwelling place of God; not that God exclusively lived in that place, but that was the specific place men would come and meet God.
b. The pattern of the tabernacle was according to a heavenly reality: it was a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Hebrews 8:5). Therefore, it had to be made according to exact dimensions, being somewhat of a "scale model" of God's throne.
i. "The pattern means almost 'architect's model.'" (Cole)
B. Instructions for building the Ark of the Covenant.
1. (10-11) The basic structure of the Ark of the Covenant.
a. The Ark was essentially a box (an ark is a box, not a boat) made of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, 3 foot 9 inches long; 2 foot 3 inches wide; and 2 foot 3 inches high.
2. (12-15) The rings and the poles for the Ark of the Covenant.
a. The Ark didn't have "handles" and was not to be carried by lifting it directly in one's hands. Instead, it was to be carried by inserting gold-overlaid wood poles into gold rings at each corner of the Ark.
b. The poles were to remain inserted in the rings, and to be the source of contact with the Ark. Apart from touching the poles, it was forbidden to touch the Ark of the Covenant.
i. In 2 Samuel 6:6-7, Uzzah touched the Ark to keep it from falling off a cart, but he did not touch it at the poles, and God struck him dead. Uzzah was wrong in his thinking that God would let the Ark be damaged; in fact, it did not fall off the cart, and no thanks to Uzzah. Uzzah was also wrong in his thinking that there was something less pure about the ground than his act of pure disobedience.
3. (16) The contents of the Ark.
a. God instructed Moses to put the Testimony - that is, a copy of the law - into the Ark of the Covenant.
b. Later, God would instruct Israel to put other things in the Ark as well - the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4).
3. (17-22) The mercy seat.
a. The mercy seat - actually, the lid to the Ark - was to be made of pure gold, and surrounded by cherubim. In the picture provided by the Ark of the Covenant, it is as if God dwelt between the two cherubim, and met Israel there.
b. The mercy seat was also the place where atoning blood from the sacrifice was sprinkled (Leviticus 16:14-15); it was as if God, looking down from His dwelling place between the cherubim, saw the law in the Ark - and knew we were guilty of breaking His law. But atoning blood of sacrifice was sprinkled on the mercy seat, so that God saw the blood covering the breaking of His law - and forgiveness could be offered.
c. In Romans 3:25, the Greek word for propitiation (hilasterion) is also used in the LXX for the "mercy seat," it might be said "Jesus is our mercy seat" - He is the place and the means of our redemption.
C. Instructions for building the Table of Showbread.
1. (23-29) Dimensions and materials for the table of showbread.
a. This table was to be made of acacia wood, overlaid with gold; 3 feet long, 1 foot, 6 inches wide, and 2 feet, 3 inches high.
b. This table was also to have the rings and poles necessary to carry it, as well as accompanying dishes, pans, and so forth, all made out of pure gold.
2. (30) The purpose for the table of showbread.
a. On the table of showbread was to be twelve loaves of showbread - literally, "bread of faces" - bread associated with, and to be eaten before, the face of God.
i. Meyer calls the showbread "presence-bread"; bread is necessary for survival; this was a reminder that fellowship with God was just as necessary for man.
b. Showbread was made of fine flower, and twelve cakes of showbread - one for each tribe of Israel - would stand on the table, sprinkled lightly with frankincense. Once a week, the bread would be replaced, and only priests could eat of that old bread (Leviticus 24:5-9).
D. Instructions for building the Lampstand.
1. (31-36) The lampstand itself.
a. The lampstand was to be hammered out of pure gold, and with no specific dimensions given, but after the pattern of a modern-day menorah - one middle shaft with three branches coming out of each side, for a total of seven places for lamps.
b. Why was there such a repetition of the almond blossom motif? The almond was a special figure because it was the first tree to blossom in the springtime.
2. (37-40) The lamps for the lampstand.
a. Since the tabernacle itself was a completely covered tent, the only source of light would be these lamps.