Exodus 37-40: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age

1.  The construction of the Tabernacle (con’d) (Exodus 37-39)

2.  The Tabernacle Erected (Exodus 40)

3.  Conclusion and re-cap of the 2nd Book of Moses

1.  The construction of the Tabernacle (con’d) (Exodus 37-39)

Exodus 37-39 sees a direct obedience of the people to the LORD’s instructions to Moses.  Here especially is the extent of the freewill offering of the people mentioned in Exodus 38:21-31:

21These are the records of the tabernacle,(L) the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites(M) under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. 22(N) Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses; 23and with him was(O) Oholiab the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver and designer and embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen.

24All the gold that was used for the work, in all the construction of the sanctuary, the gold from the offering, was twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels,[e] by(P) the shekel of the sanctuary. 25The silver from those of the congregation who were recorded was a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary: 26a(Q) beka[f] a head (that is, half a shekel, by the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone who was listed in the records, from twenty years old and upward, for(R) 603,550 men. 27The hundred talents of silver were for casting the(S) bases of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil; a hundred bases for the hundred talents, a talent a base. 28And of the 1,775 shekels he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their capitals and made fillets for them. 29The bronze that was offered was seventy talents and 2,400 shekels; 30with it he made the(T) bases for the entrance of the tent of meeting,(U) the bronze altar and the bronze grating for it and all the utensils of the altar, 31the(V) bases around the court, and the(W) bases of the gate of the court, all the(X) pegs of the tabernacle, and all the pegs around the court.

First and foremost is the active participation of the responsibility of the Levites, who have not succumbed to the violent unchristian behaviour which would have plagued their future (c.f. Genesis 48-50 with Jacob’s ‘blessings’) if they did not repent and display their allegiance to God by the slaying of the 3000).  Ithamar (“land of palms”) is Aaron’s youngest son (Exodus 6:23) and he is responsible for the actions of the Levites.  I find this quite odd: why aren’t Aaron’s two elder sons present?  Perhaps this is indicative of their relationship with God.  Nadab and Abihu may have contributed somewhat to the making of the Tabernacle, but being the two eldest sons who actually dined with God, it is disappointing that their obedience is not even mentioned in Scripture.  This may be prophetic of the reason why they were destroyed later on (Leviticus 10:1).

The financial value of the free-will offering

Secondly of course is the offering given in v.24-31.  The amount is not small – William Brown had this to say about the value of the sockets for the silver foundation of the Tabernacle itself (100 silver sockets):

“Each socket weighed a talent (Exodus 38:27), equal to 1500 oz., worth, when the silver was raised for the foundation, at least 400 GBP (British pounds), so that the value of the hundred was not less than 40,000 GBP… [then, in reference to the price which the Israelite men paid (Exodus 30:13)]… When all the pretty glittering coins were counted, it was found they numbered 603,550, being the same as the number of men (Num 1:46), showing that every man paid his ransom money.  The 603,550 half shekels, divided by 6000, the number of half shekels in a talent, show that the total amount in talents was 100 talents, and 1775 shekels (or 7/12ths of a talent).  This summation exactly agrees with that of the sacred historian”

He goes on to speak of the significance of the historical accuracy of the detail given and the symbolism provided by it under the subtitle “Christ the Church’s Sure Foundation” in his chapter “The Silver Foundation”:

“The beautiful shining foundation made of the ransom silver, worth forty thousand pounds sterling, constituted a very costly basis, from which our thoughts not unnaturally rise to an infinitely more valuable one, even to Him “who gave Himself a ransom for all”.  Prophets and apostles alike testify that He is the sure foundation on which the spiritual edifice rests.  Had the sockets not been made of the atonement money as commanded (Exodus 30:16; 38:27), but of some other material, God certainly would not have acknowledged the tabernacle as His palace-temple.  He never would have enthroned Himself in visible symbol on the mercy seat.  In like manner, those who substitute their own good works, or anything else, in the room of the Redeemer, on which to build their hope of salvation, are building on the sand, and cannot form a part of that building which is an “habitation of God through the Spirit,” for “other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Christ Jesus”.  Rest, then, on Him, and on Him alone, and your hope will be founded on Rock that will never fail you, and you will be one of the living stones of the great spiritual temple, and He who dwelt between the cherubim will dwell in you, and be your God.”

That, however, is just the silver foundation, and what great symbolism this foundation provided.  Only men were allowed to bring silver, and this re-inforces not sexism, but the headship of man over the woman, and the role of man in relation to his church.  The church is sanctified by the head – and so the salvation is provided symbolically through man, so to preach the message of Christ the man blessing his bride, the church.

What of the gold offering?  This is the offering contributed to making the golden walls of the tabernacle (Exodus 38:24), 3000 GBP worth of gold used in covering one board of the tabernacle – and in covering them ALL would be 144,000 GBP.  The entire gold offering weighed 29 talents and 730 shekels – equal to 43,865 ounces.  Thus, the approximate value of gifts for the tabernacle, including the gold (this is a table taken from Brown’s work):

Gold – 184,344 GBP

Silver – ~17,603 GBP

Brass – ~331 GBP

Probable higher price of the precious metals at the time of the Exodus – (an additional) 50,000 GBP

Grand Total:  252,168 GBP (by William Brown’s time; when his book on the tabernacle was written, it was 1899.  If you can figure out the exchange rate of 1 GBP to whatever currency you feel most comfortable working in to the exchange rate of that today, then the tabernacle may have costed at least 1 million GBP by today’s standard.  This, however, doesn’t include the value of the other voluntary offerings and needful materials, and as Brown stated, it would be quite safe to round the original figure from 252,168 GBP to 300,000 GBP by the 1899 exchange rate standard.

And no doubt, these various colourful, and beautiful materials contributed in a variety of ways: from one, which is the finances spent on the tabernacle is sufficient to magnify what the woman with the alabaster flask did with the expensive ointment (Matthew 26:7) – it is an act of reverence, faith, and acknowledgement of the divinity of the Son of Man by contributing this amount of money towards the building of the tabernacle.  It isn’t a financial stress; but it is a worshipful privilege to partake in the theatre of God’s glory.  The gold gilded boards must have shone majestically as they stood on the ransom silver, and like the Christians who rest on our ransom silver symbolised by Christ the man, we too will shine with unfading glory and holiness represented by the gold.

The tenons and sockets at the foot of every board of the tabernacle takes hold of two atonement money sockets, and the sockets in their turn took hold of the boards firmly.  Our faith is like the board hands, since it is by faith that we can even cling onto our ransom money Christ; yet the perfecter and founder of our faith is Christ himself (Hebrews 12), and his love will never depart us like the clinging of these tenons and sockets (Romans 8:38 ).  The golden bars encircle the boards and helped (along with the silver sockets) to support them, representing the arms of God which protect and support His children; and the pillars mentioned so often are also strong supports of the tabernacle, helping to sustain the roof, and the veils were suspended from them.  This is what Revelation 3:12 has to say about the representation of the pillars:

12(A) The one who conquers, I will make him(B) a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him(C) the name of my God, and(D) the name of the city of my God,(E) the new Jerusalem,(F) which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

So also, let us conquer in His name, let us conquer by His grace, let us conquer and become a pillar in His temple and partake in the brightness and glory which the tabernacle materials are only shadows of.

2.  The Tabernacle Erected (Exodus 40)

There are a few things to question in this final chapter of Exodus:

(a)  Why is the Tabernacle set up on the first day of the first month (v.1-2)?

This being the beginning of the new year, it is a sign of the tabernacle pointing towards a renewed start, a new creation being realistically filled with the glory of God (but symbolically shown by the Shekinah glory dwelling in the Tabernacle).

(b)  What is the meaning of the arrangement in v.3-5?

Again, as covered in the post covering the three Tabernacle furniture representing that of the Trinity, the focus on the veil is mentioned in v.3.  Immediately after the ark of the testimony is placed within the Most Holy Place, the next thing is not to bring in the table of shewbread, nor golden lampstand.  Rather, it is to bring in the veil; that is the status which we are at now, as the glory of the Living God is too great for us to bear.  The veil is to show symbolically how his holiness would destroy sinful humans; so the veil, like the flaming sword preventing the way to the tree of life, is for our own safety.  If, while being in the sinful state, we ate from the tree of life or entered the Most Holy Place, then we would be destroyed.

(c)  What is the significant ‘phrase’ of the final verses of Exodus 40 (v.17-32)?

The refrain is “as the LORD (had) commanded Moses” (v.16, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, 31).  Moses did according to the LORD’s commandments: this is true, humble obedience essential to enforcing the typology of Moses and Aaron and his sons (v.31) acting as prototypes of Jesus, the one man whose obedience is unrivalled (as opposed to the Catholic overly-exaggerated view of Mary’s obedience).

(d)  The cloud of the LORD on the tabernacle by day, and pillar of fire by night throughout all their journeys (v.34-38 )?

The entire verse 34-38:

34Then(BW) the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and(BX) the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 36Throughout all their journeys,(BY) whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37But(BZ) if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

I find these verses exciting, and helps to substantiate the new creation forward-looking faith.  The end of Exodus points towards the glory of the LORD, of the Shekinah resting and guiding the Israelites throughout all their journeys.  The ironic thing is the number of times the Tabernacle or the Temple is neglected throughout the rest of the Old Testament.  The final verse, v. 38, seems to be sarcastic.  Was the cloud of the LORD with them throughout all their journeys?  No – but that is because all of what has been spoken of is merely prophetic and symbolic of the greater thing to come and fulfill the meanings of these shadows.

3.  Conclusion and re-cap of the 2nd Book of Moses

So let’s quickly recap the entire book of Exodus.

Chapter 1-2: speaks of Moses’ typological birth after 400 years of silence, akin to that of Christ, during a time of persecution and death of Hebrew babies due to a sinful authority who is powerful over the land.  Moses is made an outcast, just as Jesus was an outcast (Hebrews 13:13).  During this time, Israel was groaning, as Israel was also groaning during the New Testament gospel period.

Chapters 3-11: speaks of Moses meeting with the Angel, and the Angel, Christ, promising the Israelites that the Exodus is in fulfillment of a prophecy made many hundreds of years ago, and their temporary Saviour is displayed typologically through Moses.  However, it is constantly re-stated that it is the Angel who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, not Moses (nor God the Father).  Moses returns to bring the people out of Egypt, just as Jesus was called to Egypt and desires to provide the spiritual exodus to the New Creation just as all of mankind have been waiting for (Genesis 3:15) the foundational Messianic moment in history.  The plagues speak prophetically of the plagues in Revelation, pointing again to the shadowy and prophetic nature of the events at Exodus, merely witnessing to the future global destruction by these plagues (rather than local, Egyptian destructions).

Chapters 12-15: the great exodus begins with the Passover representing the death of the firstborn son of God, Jesus Christ, through whom we live through the global fiery punishment symbolised by the crashing of the 2-walled waters (a testament of the preaching of the gospel through day 2 of creation) at the Red Sea.  Chapter 15 responds to these trials with song and praise, sung in the face of the Israelites’ enemies.

Chapter 16-18: speaks of the struggles which Israel faces regardless of the salvation, because their journey until the promised land will be filled with trials.  Yet, our trials will be fought for us by the power of the cross on the holy hill symbolised by Moses’ stretching of hands and his staff on the hill, and fought by Christ, the true Yeshua of the prophetic name of God in Joshua/Yeshua in chapter 17.  Amalek is caricatured as the enemy whom we struggle against in our daily struggles as a Christian.  The management of the Israelite church is needed given the huge and growing numbers of Christians according to Jethro’s advice, and the biggest cell-group system is established… and increasingly growing.

Chapter 19-31: prophetically symbolised the meeting of the Son and the Father on the third day after they arrive at Mt. Sinai, and the dining with the Son, the Seen God sent from the Unseen God is symbolic of the wedding day feast when the LORD will come down from heaven to eat with us (when New heavens and earth are joined, and the dividing curtain is destroyed).  Yet, the laws spoken of in these chapters are shadows and only work to reveal the sin in our hearts and the laws only work to display God’s holiness, and aiding us in turning our view from ourselves to Jesus Christ’s righteousness.  This is the reason why the law is limited to the physical Canaan.

Chapter 32-34:  the golden calf incident displays the Israelite’s ease in idol-worshipping in the time of trial for the 40 days and 40 nights while Moses is in the thickness of the clouds.  Moses returns (non-transfigured) and smashes the two tablets of the 10 words; and 3000 were taken from the church on that day by the Levites contrary to the 3000 added on the Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection (Acts 2).  Yet, God now tells the Israelites to leave Sinai, leaving the place where they heard the commandments from the Father, but the new tablets take away the focus on the physical land of Canaan.  The older tablets served as the older Old Testament system of the law which pointed towards Christ; the newer system pointed to the gospel, the spiritual life which the law pointed towards, which explains the lack of focus on physical Canaan.  On this note, the covenant between God and Israel is renewed, resulting also in the ‘transfiguration’ or the shining face of Moses.  Such is the true glory of the second, not the first, set of tablets.

Chapter 35-40:  Exodus ends on the obedience of the people, filled with the Holy Spirit, in response to the mighty instructions given from the mountain of God and in response to the second set of tablets.  The old set elicited insufficient response and only a few obeyed the truth of the older tablets as pointing to Christ; but the new tablets and the ‘transfiguration’ of Moses pointed almost the entire congregation to Jesus Christ as displayed by their sudden obedience.

Thus, chapters 19-40 work to become a blue-print of the future; the Exodus of the Christians when they come to embrace the blood of their Passover Lamb, symbolised further by the meeting of the Son and the Father on the Third Day when the work on the cross is complete.  We, as Christians, are then filled with the Spirit after acknowleding Christ’s reconciliatory propitiation of sins and are equipped to worship and evangelise through whatever means, symbolised by the finances given to the building of the tabernacle, the detailed temple and body of Christ Jesus.  So chapter 40 ends on a positive note, much like that of Genesis 50.  Both looked forward to God’s fulfillment of his promise and his covenant by his faithfulness (Romans 3:4) – yet the fulfillment is yet to come and until then, we continue to contribute more free-will offerings to the tabernacle, the church of God, by the power of the Spirit until the day when the Shekinah glory will reside with us for all of eternity.

Final words from Brown on the materials:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the LORD; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

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Exodus 37-40: And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age

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