Exodus 40 has the construction of the tabernacle complete. God tells Moses “On the first day of the first month you shall erect the tabernacle of the tent of meeting” and gives him a very detailed description of exactly how that is to happen. So what does Moses do? What he has been very good at doing – he obeyed just as the Lord commanded. “Moses erected the tabernacle. He laid its bases, and set up its frames, and put in its poles, and raised up its pillars. And he spread the tent over the tabernacle and put the covering of the tent over it, as the Lord had commanded Moses”.
Just like the last chapter, we read these powerful words over and over again here. “As the Lord commanded Moses”. Moses obeyed God’s commandments. He did it swiftly and completely. And it pleased God. In the same way, if we learn to be obedient and listen carefully to God’s commands and then do them obediently, we too will please God. That phrase is all over the life of Moses. He learned how to hear God, and when He did, He immediately obeyed. That is the lesson we should learn from this great man of God.
Once the tabernacle was set up, there was a specific way that Moses was to prepare the people that would work in it – namely Aaron and his sons who were to be priests. “Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance of the tent of meeting and shall wash them with water and put on Aaron the holy garments. And you shall anoint him and consecrate him that he may serve me as priest…..their anointing shall admit them to a perpetual priesthood throughout their generations”. They had to be prepared for service, and Moses did as God commanded.
Once things were set up and the people ready – God showed up. “So Moses finished the work. Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle….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”. God came and filled the tabernacle after Moses and the people had done what He asked. That is often the way things work. God moves after we obey. We need to listen and act in order to release God’s power in our midst. Are you doing as the Lord commanded in your patch?
Exodus 39 has the work continuing on the items for the tabernacle. We see one phrase over and over in this passage: “as the Lord had commanded Moses”. Everythign that was done by the workers was done just as God commanded. Moses was the messenger, but this was God’s design and plan and everyone knew it. And they painstakingly made sure they built it exactly that way. It was completed down to the finest of details. It was done to God’s specifications.
What would people say about you in regard to what God has told you to do? Would it read the same? ______ did it as the Lord commanded. Does that describe you and how you live today? It should. That is what God not only desires but holds us accountable to. Scripture is full of commandments that we need to live by. Loving our spouse, leading our families, serving one another, loving our God and on the list goes. They aren’t suggestions or good ideas. We need to live as the Lord has commanded us. That is the secret to success in our walk with Jesus.
They’ve been working on the tabernacle for some time and now “they brought the tabernacle to Moses”. Can you imagine the concern about what his response would be. They’ve worked hard and tried their best to follow the guidelines and blueprints provided, but would it be good enough. “The people of Israel had done all the work” and now it is inspection time. There were dozens of items that were created for the interior of the tabernacle all created from very expensive resources – gold, silver, bronze, expensive cloths and on the list goes. Plenty of things that could have gone wrong.
“And Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it; as the Lord had commanded, so had they done it. Then Moses blessed them”. Not a lot of fanfare or high fives, at least according to the text. But something far more important that indicates Moses was pleased. He blessed them. He brought them before the Father and offered up a blessing over them and their families and all the work they had done and consecrated it all to God. Moses was pleased. He had never been a huge celebrator, but obedience always brings a smile, from God and man!
Exodus 38 continues the creation of the items for the tabernacle. Bezalel made the altar and all the utensils for it. Those he made from bronze. He also made the court where people approached, and the hangings that went up there to keep it separated. There were many different items he was to make, and many different raw materials and resources he used. He was an extremely skilled craftsman. And the big point was that he “made all that the Lord commanded Moses”. He did what God instructed. Not exactly the normal artist who may have influenced the outcome with some personal ideas.
It took a lot of stuff to build the items for the tabernacle.
- twenty-nine talents and 730 shekels of gold
- a hundred talents and 1,775 shekels of silver
- seventy talents and 2,400 shekels of bronze
That is a lot of precious metals. A talent is somewhere around 75 pounds so this is a whole lot of dollars that Bezalel had as resources to create what God instructed.
Every person over 20 brought an offering to help with the funding of the tabernacle. And there was plenty for Bezalel to get the work done. God’s never got a funding issue if His people are obedient. That’s the problem with tithing. If we were faithful, there would be so much money available that we’d never be short in serving the needs of people. But far too few truly tithe. We play games with our giving and decide who and where and how much we should give. That didn’t happen here. They all gave if they were 20 or older.
Sometimes I wonder why God is so forgiving about this area of tithing. It isn’t really a recommendation. It is part of His law and we’ll see much more of it on our journey through the Scriptures. Back in this day – it wasn’t something people thought about. If your name was listed and you were over 20 you owed half a shekel. And that applied to 603,550 men, not that anyone was counting. People get so funny about money. They think it is theirs for some reason and it should be private. All our money belongs to God. When we give back, it is simply returning it to the rightful owner. We shouldn’t get so crazy about something so simple!
Exodus 37 has the details of Bezalel’s work in creating the ark and furniture for the tabernacle. He was one of the skilled men that Moses called to do the work. The details here have been mentioned previously in the book, but this again shows the importance of the furnishings of the tabernacle and how important details are to God’s plans. God is very clear that little things matter, down to the types of raw materials to be used and the design and dimensions of the item. It isn’t left up to interpretation. God defines things clearly.
Bezaleel has a long list of things to create:
- The ark (or table)
- The mercy seat with its cherubim
- The poles to carry the ark
- The table and its vessels
- The candlestick with its lamps
- The altar of incense
- The oil and incense to be used in worship
Bezaleel had to be a very skilled man as he needed to work with wood, gold, and other resources to create all that God instructed. And he certainly had to work painstakingly on the details of what was required.
One can question why God was so specific on the furnishings for the inner place in the tabernacle. But this was where God would come to meet Moses and the priest – it was His most holy place – and so He was very detailed and descriptive in what He wanted and how it would be made. God will meet us anywhere. After all, He is everywhere, omnipresent in our world. But He also loves to have a place that we can meet that is special and dedicated to Him. A place where we can focus and have holy oil and fragrant incense which were part of a worshipful experience.
How do you meet up with God today? Do you have a place you can go in the quiet and just be with Him one on One? He is alive and well and desires us to spend time with Him. He wants us to meet Him in a place of reverence and worship, but not just for an hour on Sunday morning. God desires us to recognize His presence continually but focus on Him with some personal worship as well. Where’s your tabernacle and tent of meeting? Where do you get away to spend time at the feet of our God?
Exodus 36 has the work of building and furnishing the tent of meeting in full swing. We learn a principle here – when God originates a plan or project, He equips those He calls to do the job. “Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the Lord has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work”. These guys were good in their own right, but God’s touch equipped them to do anything and everything. They had the skill and knowledge and ability to complete the task God set before them.
That’s how God works. When He calls us He equips us. When He has a task for us He provides what is needed. In fact, as we saw in the last chapter, God stirs up other people to be part of fulfilling His plan. And in this case, the people were a bit overzealous. Moses has to actually command people to stop bringing things – no more gifts or resources – as they were overwhelmed with more than they needed or could use. “So the people were restrained from bringing”. Have you ever heard a church tell its members to stop giving? That’s what Moses has to do here.
God provided the people and the needed money and supplies to make it happen. There was no continual plea to bring more. There were no shortages of goods or people equipped to do the work. And God didn’t spare the details as they are very concise and specific. This is a very well executed plan to build the tent of meeting exactly as God instructed. No guessing – God has it spelled out down to the colors and materials to be used. He is all about the details and how things should be put together.
He is equally as focused on the details of our lives. He has a plan – down to the very details – and it is a plan for our welfare and goodness – and there are no gaps or holes. The only variable is us – and whether we will listen and obey. He has a plan. We have the opportunity to walk with Him through it. But when we make choices to do things our way, when we ignore what God has in store, when we choose to disobey and take the steering wheel on our own – well we mess up the plan and ultimately can miss the blessing God intends. Are you walking with God in living out His plan for you?
Exodus 35 has Moses getting everyone in the congregation together so he could give them direction on God’s commands. He talks about three specific commandments:
- “Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord”
- Take from among you a contribution to the Lord
- Let every skillful craftsman among you come and make all that the Lord has commanded”
So Moses gives commandments about rest and the Sabbath, giving and serving. Three key areas we certainly need to have in our lives today as Christ Followers.
He begins with the commandment God gave clearly that work was to be done in six days, and then there was to be a day of rest. But it is more than lying around and being a bum. The day is to be holy to the Lord. It is a time to refresh our body, but more importantly our soul. Was it important? The commandment came with this penalty for violating it. “Whoever does any work on it shall be put to death”. That is pretty serious consequences. We see similar words in other places in scripture. God wants us to take care of ourselves spiritually, emotionally and physically. We were created with a need for rest and worship. Certainly over the years the Sabbath has become a very different day but we need to seek God’s direction on how we should spend that day in regard to our well-being.
Secondly Moses talks about bringing a contribution to the Lord. It doesn’t address tithing here as a discipline of giving, but that is the underlying foundation for how we are to give to the Lord. Moses tells the people to give with a generous heart. It should never be something we do grudgingly or from a sense of compulsion. Our gifts to the Lord should be in gratitude for all that He has given us. After all, everything we have is really His already. He has entrusted it to us to steward and use for His glory, but we can’t lay claim to any of it. So returning some of what He already owes to Himself is not too much to ask.
Finally Moses calls on the people to serve. There is a long list of items to be crafted and tasks to be completed. God calls us to serve, not only in the church, but outside. We are called to good works and to bear fruit. It is the requirement, not even merely the expectation. People responded to Moses instruction on these three things. “Everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him…. All who were of a willing heart….All the women whose hearts stirred….All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them”. God moved in the hearts of His people and they responded. We need to be sure we are sensitive to the stirring of His Spirit in us so we can respond and take action in the same way. God is calling – are we listening – and are we responding?
Exodus 34 has round two of Moses receiving the commandments from God. He had gone up on the mountain before and been given the commandments on two stone tablets, which he quickly broke when he came down and found the people sinning. So God tells Moses to “Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready by the morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai”. Moses is summoned a second time to come to the mountain to receive God’s words.
Up he goes and meets with God. He hears God’s truth about His people and their sin. “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation”. God loves His people, but they won’t be getting a pass on their sin. There is always a price for sin. And God is clear it goes beyond the perpetrator to generations following.
Moses again intercedes for the people. “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance”. Moses pleads for God’s forgiveness and protection. He knows his role in leading the people and asks God to bless them. And God agrees saying “all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you”. God is going to show up and make it very clear that He is their God.
Moses is on the mountain “with the Lord forty days and forty nights”. He went up there to get the commandments written again on the stone tablets and that is exactly what happened. “He wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments”. These Ten Commandments were God’s guidelines for the people to live by. They were the framework for walking with God. Moses spent 40 days and nights on the mountain with God, and he was changed. “The skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God”. When we spend time in the presence of God, we will be affected. With Moses, it wasn’t just the words he returned with, but his actual being was changed. For us, the change should be our hearts!