67. Exodus 26: “Plans for the Tabernacle”
South Woods State Prison in Bridgeton, NJ –Men’s Evening Chapel on 10/16/2016
(edited February 2021)
Our Bible study tonight deals with the plans the Lord gave Moses to build the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. It was a very special structure. Today, actually, we would call it a tent.
Moses was high up on Mt. Sinai, just east of Egypt with the Children of Ancient Israel gathered below. They were on a journey from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. Under the Old Covenant, God had claimed them to be His People and promised them freedom and prosperity in a land of “milk and honey.” But it would take them many years to get there.
Moses has been up on this mountain receiving instructions directly from God for many days. He has already gotten the Ten Commandments and other detailed guidance on how they should live. Now, recorded for us here in Exodus chapter 26, Moses gets a “blueprint” for the construction of this Tabernacle. At this point, they were all living in tents, so the Lord is requiring that they build Him a tent! This would be a way for Him to join them on this journey.
Verses 1-5: “Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and every one of the curtains shall have one measure. The five curtains shall be coupled together one to another; and other five curtains shall be coupled one to another. And thou shalt make loops of blue upon the edge of the one curtain from the selvedge in the coupling; and likewise shalt thou make in the uttermost edge of another curtain, in the coupling of the second. Fifty loops shalt thou make in the one curtain, and fifty loops shalt thou make in the edge of the curtain that is in the coupling of the second; that the loops may take hold one of another.”
Notice all the fine detail God lays out for them. He didn’t say, “Throw together some kind of tent for Me” or “Can I borrow a tent from somebody?” No, and you know what, when the Lord asks us to worship and serve Him today, He also has something special in mind. He KNOWS what wants, and what He wants is best.
Verse 6: “And thou shalt make fifty taches of gold, and couple the curtains together with the taches: and it shall be one tabernacle.”
These ‘taches” are hooks, I think.
Verses 7-12: “And thou shalt make curtains of goats' hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle: eleven curtains shalt thou make. The length of one curtain shall be thirty cubits, and the breadth of one curtain four cubits: and the eleven curtains shall be all of one measure. And thou shalt couple five curtains by themselves, and six curtains by themselves, and shalt double the sixth curtain in the forefront of the tabernacle. And thou shalt make fifty loops on the edge of the one curtain that is outmost in the coupling, and fifty loops in the edge of the curtain which coupleth the second. And thou shalt make fifty taches of brass, and put the taches into the loops, and couple the tent together, that it may be one. And the remnant that remaineth of the curtains of the tent, the half curtain that remaineth, shall hang over the backside of the tabernacle.”
The Tabernacle would have to be taken down, moved, and set up again as the People travelled to new locations. It had an outer covering for weatherproofing. God thought of all the minute details. Listen:
Verses 13-17: “And a cubit on the one side, and a cubit on the other side of that which remaineth in the length of the curtains of the tent, it shall hang over the sides of the tabernacle on this side and on that side, to cover it. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams' skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers' skins. And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up. Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board. Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle.”
The Lord cares about the practical as well as the spiritual aspects of His work here on the Earth. Talk about quality, did you ever hear of a tent with boards in its walls?
Verses 18-21: “And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward. And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons. And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards: And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.”
It really isn’t so strange, to hear the Lord speak of craft, design, and beauty in such details, is it? He is the author of all the true beauty and the source of the highest logic we experience in this world:
Verses 22-30: “And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards. And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides. And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board. And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle, And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward. And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end. And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold. And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount.”
God planned, provided the resources, and enabled the craftsmen and women that would make the Tabernacle into a reality. People are to be involved, certainly, but in a very real sense, God did it all! And, I’ve found, that is true of His work in our time too. ONLY HE can provide a way for us to travel through this life and have Him with us and leading us! We just can’t make that happen that on our own. You know, we can’t even worship Him properly without His help.
Verses 31-34: “And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made: And thou shalt hang it upon four pillars of shittim wood overlaid with gold: their hooks shall be of gold, upon the four sockets of silver. And thou shalt hang up the vail under the taches, that thou mayest bring in thither within the vail the ark of the testimony: and the vail shall divide unto you between the holy place and the most holy. And thou shalt put the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.”
This is an interesting detail: there is to be a barrier hung around the HOLIEST PLACE in the Tabernacle. The place where God’s presence would actually reside. Some have said the curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet was there to protect the People from God. But there is another view too. What if the Lord had walked openly among them back then? Would it have been safe for Him? What happened when He did, finally, walk freely among us? We don’t have to imagine, it is recorded for us in Mark 10:32b-34:
“He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him, Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles: And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.”
Moses and Ancient Israel did build that Tabernacle and it functioned well for many years. It worked out because they followed God’s instructions to them. Are we going to follow His instructions for worshipping Him today? When we worship the Lord in our own way, it may be to exploit Him or to twist His will to meet our requirements! Ancient Israel fell into that trap, many times, and we are no better than they, but we do have a great advantage.
Verses 35-37: “And thou shalt set the table without the vail, and the candlestick over against the table on the side of the tabernacle toward the south: and thou shalt put the table on the north side. And thou shalt make an hanging for the door of the tent, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework. And thou shalt make for the hanging five pillars of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, and their hooks shall be of gold: and thou shalt cast five sockets of brass for them.
Outside the door of that Tabernacle, they had to have priests sacrifice their livestock so they could approach God. For us, Christ has presented His Own Blood at an altar they could hardly imagine. Let’s look, in the New Testament again, at Hebrews 10: 10-17:
“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”
So, we have a New Way to travel with God. A New Testament, a New Covenant, and yes, we ALSO have a New Tabernacle, fully designed by God, as described in I Cor 6:19-20:
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
If you’ve accepted Christ’s Sacrifice on your behalf, then God dwells in YOU, and will always be with you as you journey through the wilderness of this world and beyond. Let’s pray.