The Ephod (Exodus 28:5 – 14)

God instructs Moses that the artisans should make the ephod of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread along with fine linen.  Two edges would be joined by straps and the ephod would have a colorful band.

They were also instructed to take two onyx stones and engrave the names of the sons of Israel on them: six on one and six on the other.  They were to be set in gold settings and mounted to the shoulders of the ephod.  Aaron would then bear the names of the sons of Israel as a memorial.  There would be braided chains between the settings.

What is the significance of this piece of clothing, this uniform for the high priest?  First, only the finest materials were to be used in the service of the Lord.  Second, a memorial to their ancestors was an important part of the service of the Lord.  Finally, they were to use pure items for the service of the Lord.    The finest materials (fine linen, fine thread) were the only thing fit for a King and a God.  When we give God our best, we honor Him as the best and most excellent being in all the universe.  The memorial reminded the Israelites of their heritage, but also of the covenant between God and the Israelites.  It is important for us to remember the relationship and the powerful commitment God made to us through the work of Jesus on Calvary.  The pure gold and onyx represents the fact that we should live in purity and continually appreciate the purity of God as He imparts it unto us.  Just like the ephod represented the great things of God and how we should worship Him, so we should live for God today.  May God help us to worship in excellence, covenant, and purity!

The Lampstand and the Priestly Garments (Exodus 27:20 – 28:4)

The lampstand was to be cared for constantly, and the flame was to be ascending to the Heavens at all times.  Aaron and his sons were to be the caretakers of the lampstand just outside the Most Holy Place.

The Lord gave additional instructions as to the design and makeup of the priestly garments.  Aaron and his sons would be the priests unto the Lord.  In order to serve the temple, they must wear particular garments, for glory and for beauty.  Gifted artisans would make a breastplate, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban, and a sash.  These would be the garments in which they would offer service to God in His temple.

While this particular passage may not have specific detail, it does give a picture of the ways in which God determined for worship to be performed.  When God gives instructions, it is for our good, that we may offer God worship that is acceptable unto Him.  When we listen to God’s word and His instruction, we can find a place of rest in Him that is sweet and peaceful that will lead us further into our walk with God.  Listen to what God is saying and worship Him accordingly.

The Altar and the Courtyard (Exodus 27:1 – 19)

The Altar was to be constructed of acacia wood and overlaid in bronze, 7 1/2 feet square and 4 1/2 feet tall.  It would have four horns, one on each corner, and pans underneath to catch the ashes of the burnt offering.  The pans, shovels, basins, and forks would be made of bronze as well.  There would be a grate underneath, and rings on the four corners by which to carry the altar with poles.

The Court of the Tabernacle surrounded by hangings, 150 feet on the North and the South.  They would be hung on bronze pillars and hooks.  The hangings for the East and West would be 75 feet.  Within the East side would be a gate with a screen 30 feet long.

The altar would be the place where all the offerings unto God would be offered.  It was like a large wood grill that would be used to burn (or cook) the offerings once they were offered unto the priests and killed by the priests.  This practice of offerings for the forgiveness of sins, among other things, would be the type, or forerunner, of the lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who was slaughtered by the priesthood of the Jews for the sins of the world.  He was the Passover Lamb.

The courtyard would be the place where all people could come to offer sacrifice unto God.  Only the priests could enter the holy place, and only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy or the Holy of Holies.  This arrangement of the tabernacle would represent the pattern of worship for all times.  One enters the house of God with a repentant heart, seeking cleansing and forgiveness of sins, then enters into the holy place to dwell in His presence.  Finally, the worshipper would go into the Most Holy place, where God would examine his or her soul and perfect him or her in the presence of God.

We must approach God with humble, penitent hearts, open to His transforming Spirit.  The tabernacle gives us a shadow of the pattern of worship by which God’s people must approach him.  Although this passage just gives the outward dimensions of the tabernacle and some of its most important items, there will be other items described as we go forward that will flesh out the picture of the pattern of worship.

The Lampstand and the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:31 – 26:37)

The Golden Lampstand (Temple Menorah) was to be made of pure gold, and made of one piece.  Six branches would come out of the main lampstand, three on each side.  It is very ornate, and its accessories would also be of gold.  The Lampstand carried oil to the wick.  The oil and the fire represent the presence of the Holy Spirit: comforting, soothing, purging, empowering.

The lampstand was the third piece of the puzzle, completing the imagery of the Trinity.  The Ark represented the Father, requiring judgement and payment for the sins of man.  The Table of the Showbread represented the Son, the Bread of Life, who would walk among men and give life.  The Lampstand represented the Holy Spirit, illuminating and healing along life’s way, moving among men still today!

The tabernacle would be made with ten curtains of fine woven linen, and woven with blue, purple, and scarlet thread.  Forty-two feet by six feet are the dimensions of each curtain.  Curtains would be held together by blue yarn loops and gold clasps.  There are also curtains of goats’ hair as a tent over the tabernacle.

The frame would be made of boards of acacia wood.  They were held together and in place by silver sockets and rings.  There is also a veil woven of blue, purple, and scarlet thread and fine linen.  It has the design of cherubim woven into it.  The veil would divide the holy place and the Most Holy, where the Ark of the Covenant would reside.  The table and the lampstand would sit outside the veil across from one another, with the table on the north side.

The design of the tabernacle was intentional.  It was designed to be sturdy, but nevertheless portable.  It could be put up and taken down without tremendous construction or deconstruction effort.

Several things are suggested here by the construction materials and the nature of the tabernacle.  The purity of the gold and silver signify the holy and pure nature of God.  The materials of His house must be of a similar nature to His nature.  The portability of the Tabernacle reminds us of the need to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit wherever He leads.  When you find a pure God and enter into covenant with Him, you must be ready to follow Him wherever He may lead.  God is worth following, because He always knows where you need to go to be in the center of His will!

The Ark and the Table (Exodus 25:10 – 30)

God begins to give Moses instructions for the furniture and integral items for the Tabernacle.  The first item mentioned is the heart of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant.  It was to measure 3 3/4 feet long by 2 1/4 feet wide.  It was to be overlaid with gold Inside and out, be outfitted with rings for poles to be inserted for carrying the ark.  It would have a chamber inside that held the Testimony of the Lord.  The chamber was covered by the mercy seat, which had two cherubim, one at each end facing each other.  Their wings would cover the mercy seat and would stretch out and touch one another.  God promised to appear to Moses above the mercy seat.  This piece housed the presence of God.  He was not restricted to the Ark, but He was found there.

The Table of the Showbread was to be 3 feet long and 1 1/2 feet wide.  It would also be overlaid with gold and have rings for poles by which to carry the table.  The table would hold the Showbread, a holy offering to the Lord.  Showbread could just as easily be translated “presence bread” because it must always be in the presence of the Lord (the Ark).  It was left on the table for a week, then replaced.  The priests could eat it after it was removed from the table, as long as it was eaten in a holy place.

These items began the official fitting of the tabernacle as a place of worship.  The Ark and the Table symbolized Spiritual presence.  The ark was where God’s express presence would reside.  The Table also represented God’s presence, but not directly.  I believe it is possible that the bread could be a type or shadow of Jesus Christ Himself, the Bread of Life.

Today, we are representatives of the Ark, as we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, carrying the presence of the Lord with us.  We carry the Bread of Life with us in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the knowledge of the Word of God.  Therefore, these items were not only types of Christ, but also of the work of the Son and the Spirit in the life of the believer.  Carry the Presence and share the Bread!

On the Mountain With God (Exodus 24:9 – 25:9)

Moses obeys the command to take Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu up to the mountain, as well as 70 elders from Israel, and they all saw God.  Although the chronology of the passage from yesterday’s blog and this one today seem a bit confused, or at least redundant, it appears that God wanted to reveal Himself, at least partially, to the leaders of Israel.  Under His feet it appeared the ground was paved with sapphires, clear as heaven.

God then instructed Moses to come up onto the mountain, and He would give Him tablets of stone with the law and commandments.  Moses took His assistant Joshua, and left Aaron and Hur in charge to settle any disputes or difficulties.  The glory of the Lord rested on the mountain (Mount Sinai) and God called Moses up into the cloud and fire, and he stayed there with God for forty days and nights.

Dwelling in the awesome presence of God is a powerful and awe-inspiring, humbling event.  One thing I love about worship is that it brings me into a spiritual encounter with God that can change me, transform me, and especially bring me to the reality of my own inadequacies and sinfulness.  While that may seem negative, sometimes I need to be reminded that I need God.  When I realize my need for God, it is then much easier to ask for forgiveness, be cleansed from my wickedness, and walk in His holiness.

After Moses’ encounter with the presence of God, God instructed Moses to receive an offering from the people.  They should contribute gold, silver, and bronze, and many other materials that would be useful in the construction of a sanctuary for God.  He then said that He would give Moses instructions on how the tabernacle should be buit.

The presence of God is an awesome thing, but to prepare a sanctuary for His presence, is an awesome task.  For thousands of years, men have sought to prepare a house for God.  Some have been elaborate, like the temple of Solomon, and the massive cathedrals of Europe.  However, in our day the temple of the Holy Spirit is found among men.  Churches and sacred spaces definitely have a purpose and function, but it is important to understand two things: make God’s house holy and reverence him within it, and be His house and reverence Him with your life wherever you may be!

The Law and the Covenant (Exodus 24:1-8)

Once Moses had received the law from God, God instructed him how to come before Him with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu worshiping from afar.  Once Moses told the law to the people, they agreed to do all that the Lord had said.  They sacrificed unto the Lord, and Moses wrote all the law down and read it to the people.  The people again said they would obey the law, and Moses sprinkled blood from the sacrifice on the people to seal the covenant.

Covenant is a powerful concept.  It is the commitment of one to another in a lifelong relationship.  In Israel’s relationship with God, the law was God’s requirements of Israel.  In response to their adherence to the law, God would bless and provide for them and drive out their enemies.  The blood of the sacrifice was the sign of the covenant.  God’s covenant for us today also involves blood, the blood of Jesus Christ.  The covenant today is a covenant of grace, predicated on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and the obedience of the redeemed in relationship with Christ.  When God–through His Holy Spirit–brings instruction to our hearts, we should obey unconditionally what the Spirit says.  The law is written in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, and we should hear His voice and obey.

The law was not a bad thing, except that it created a works-based faith where obedience alone was the means of salvation.  The covenant of grace is a faith-based faith, where relationship is the key to salvation.  However, God’s laws still apply, just not relating to the need for animal sacrifices and atonement.  The atonement has been supplied through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Praise God for the work of Christ and His passion!