Exodus 35:1 – 39:43 (NIV), I’ve just put in the beginning and the ending of these 5 chapters of Exodus, these chapters go into the directions for making the tabernacle and associated items: 35:1 – 3, 10 Moses assembled the whole Israelite community and said to them, “These are the things the Lord has commanded you to do: For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the Lord. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death. Do not light a fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day. … All who are skilled among you are to come and make everything the Lord has commanded: … ”
Exodus 39:32-43 ‘So all the work on the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moses. Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases; the covering of ram skins dyed red and the covering of another durable leather and the shielding curtain; the ark of the covenant law with its poles and the atonement cover; the table with all its articles and the bread of the Presence; the pure gold lampstand with its row of lamps and all its accessories, and the olive oil for the light; the gold altar, the anointing oil, the fragrant incense, and the curtain for the entrance to the tent; the bronze altar with its bronze grating, its poles and all its utensils; the basin with its stand; the curtains of the courtyard with its posts and bases, and the curtain for the entrance to the courtyard; the ropes and tent pegs for the courtyard; all the furnishings for the tabernacle, the tent of meeting; and the woven garments worn for ministering in the sanctuary, both the sacred garments for Aaron the priest and the garments for his sons when serving as priests.
The Israelites had done all the work just as the Lord had commanded Moses. Moses inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the Lord had commanded. So Moses blessed them.’
I’ll quote a lot of what Selwyn has written in today’s study, because I find it hard to summarise, without losing some of its attraction.
He writes: “… Notice the following: the seven times God spoke to Moses, ending with the Sabbath: the bringing of all the rich resources of God’s world into order and beauty; the action of the creative Spirit of God; the fact that the work is said to be completed; the way Moses inspects the work, pronounces himself satisfied and blesses it; and, the commencement date on the first day of the first month.
All of these features echo the account in Genesis 1. In other words, just as the Sabbath sanctifies time so the tabernacle sanctifies space. In the midst of a fallen, disordered, rebellious world the tabernacle is one place where the original beauty and design and purpose of creation as a vehicle for God’s glorious presence can be seen!”
The old covenant has passed away, there’s no temple, and the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant have also passed away – there are destroyed or lost – in ‘time’. So what do we have to demonstrate God’s glorious presence? Ourselves – as followers of Jesus, we reflect His love to the world, as we make Him known.
In John 4:19-26, we read: ‘”Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you – I am he.”’
Here, we hear Jesus saying that the purpose for the Jewish temple in Jerusalem is finished – there is no need for another temple to be built in Jerusalem. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians 3:16-17, he says: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.”
The related point is this, we don’t need the commandments to be written in stone and to be carried around so that we can remind ourselves of their content. For in Hebrews 10:15-16, we read: ‘The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds. … ”. We carry around, God’s laws – all the time; we can never lose them, because they are written on our hearts and minds.
In summary, we too – have God’s presence always with us – and we can experience the joy of knowing that He is leading us home, to eternal peace. In 1 Peter 1:8-9, we have these great words: “Though you have not seen Jesus, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
[ To Follow Jesus – Shayne McCusker – ©2013]