This week we’re wrapping up Exodus and it ends on a positive note. Last week, we examined the Golden Calf debacle, a real low point for the people of God. Many of you know that I attended Texas A&M and love a good aggie joke. The Israelites, like many of us can’t help but make some boneheaded decisions from time to time. It reminds me of… the aggie that interviewed for a job painting highway stripes. The foreman said, “to get this job, we have to have an agreement. I need for you to paint at least 3 miles of stripes a day.” The aggie said, “no problem, I can do that.” The first day, he painted 5 miles of stripes. The foreman was impressed. His second day on the job, the aggie painted 3 miles of stripes. The third day, the aggie only painted 1 mile of stripes and the fourth day a ½ mile. The foreman said, “I don’t think this is working out. What’s the deal? Your first day you did so well, but now it’s bad.” The frustrated aggie replied, “I’m sorry boss, the bucket just keeps getting farther and farther away!”
The Israelites learned from their mistake. As Exodus closes, they have been faithful, helpful and generous. They would follow God’s instructions, build the Tabernacle and experience God’s blessings upon them.
I love this quote from Skip Heitzig, he says, “Exodus starts out in the brickyards of Egypt, but ends in the tabernacle with God living at the center of his people. In the same way God wants to take us out of the slavery of sin and live at the center of our lives.”
In Exodus 25-40, God told Moses how to build the Tabernacle, and Moses delegated jobs in order to do it. God allows people to participate with him in carrying out his will. Our task is not just to sit and watch God work, but to give our best effort when work needs to be done.
The physical care of the Tabernacle required a long list of tasks, and each was important to the work of God’s house. This principle is important to remember today when God’s house is partly represented by the church. There are many seemingly unimportant tasks that must be done to keep our church buildings maintained. Cleaning, mowing, printing, washing dishes, changing diapers, painting walls, or pulling weeds may not seem very spiritual. But they are vital to the ministry of the church and are an important part of our worship of God.
I was amazed as I studied the Tabernacle how much it is mentioned in the bible. Did you know that 1/3 of the book of Exodus deals with the Tabernacle?! Chapter 25 to chapter 40 (leaving out 32 & 33 the Golden Calf) gives us 13 chapters. Leviticus has 18 chapters devoted to the Tabernacle. Numbers has 13 chapters devoted to the Tabernacle. Deuteronomy has 2 chapters devoted to the Tabernacle. Hebrews has 4 chapters devoted to the Tabernacle.
50 Bible chapters devoted to the Tabernacle! It must be important.
Each aspect of the Tabernacle teaches us about Christ. The tabernacle was designed specifically, in detail by God, and pointed to the Person and the ministry of Jesus Christ.
We will look at this in more detail when we get into Leviticus next year but briefly I’ll share how a few parts point to Christ.
By looking at the image of the Tabernacle, see that there was only one way in. This reminds us of Jesus who said, “I am THE way, no one comes to the father but by me.” John 14: 6 In John 10, Jesus says that he is THE gate, whoever enters through me will be saved.”
After the entrance we come face to face with the altar, a place of death and sacrifice. Sheep, goats and bulls were sacrificed at the altar and their blood atoned for the sins of the people. When John the Baptist sees Jesus he reminds us, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! Jesus’ death on the cross, his shed blood is our atonement “once for all.”
Then we see a large basin for washing. The washing symbolized spiritual cleansing and forgiveness of sins. The basin reminds us that we are washed and cleansed by Christ. The basin is also a picture of baptism, we are dead in our sins as we go down into the water but come up raised to walk in new life with Christ.
Next, entering the Holy Place and Most Holy Place we see that the décor changes from bronze on the outside to gold on the inside. Gold symbolizes royalty and deity. The articles in the Holy Place reminds us of how we are to live with Christ in our lives.
The menorah represents the perfect light of Christ that guides us. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life.” The bread of Presence reminds us that Christ is our sustenance and living bread. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”
The Altar of Incense pointed to Jesus Christ as the great Intercessor and Mediator who represents us before God and makes our prayers acceptable to God.
The Holy Place and the Most Holy Place were divided by a large (shielding) curtain. Do you remember what happened to the curtain when Jesus died on the cross? “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Because of Jesus, “we can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.”
As the Moses and the people finish the work of the Tabernacle, God is pleased. Let’s look at what happens.
3 Then Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and altar and put up the curtain at the entrance to the courtyard. And so Moses finished the work.
34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.
God’s presence is with His people! He is living or dwelling at the center of his people. The people see and experience the glory of God. Every day when they woke up and they looked out and saw God and his glory in their presence. Isn’t that what Jesus also did?
“The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Christ was born and came to “tabernacle” (dwell) with us.
As Exodus closes, not only was God with the people, He also guided them.
“In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.
The Israelites were once Egyptian slaves making bricks without straw. Here they were following the presence of God, carrying the Tabernacle or place of worship that they had built for God.
Exodus begins in gloom and ends in glory. This parallels our progress through the Christian life. We begin as slaves to sin and are redeemed by God. He guides us through life with His word, the Holy Spirit, the church, and other believers. We always have his presence and guidance. We end our pilgrimage living with God forever.