“That I Might Dwell Among Them (part a)”
II.) Vs. 1-9 Where God guides He provides
God had been faithful to His promise and delivered the nation from bondage. He had adopted them as His special treasure now He is desiring to fulfill the rest of His promise to them that was spoken to Moses back in chapter 6:8, “And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob..” The final 16 chapters of Exodus are focused around building the sanctuary. The next seven chapters, 25-31 deal with the intricate details of this building, everything from the building it’s self to that of the garments the priests were to ware. Then the next six chapters, 32-37 deal with the actual construction. Yet unless you are into construction stuff most of this is like reading someone else’s blue prints. In fact, many commentaries skip this section all together. Now as we consider this section it ought to peek our interest. Because God obviously has spent a great deal of time in having Moses record this for us. Immediately two questions come to my mind that I want answers for:
- Why is the sanctuary so important that 16 chapters are dedicated to the details of its building? If you will, “Why a building?”
- Is their any significance to all the intricate details of the construction of the sanctuary in my life? Or again, “What does it matter what the building looks like?”
- First, let me answer from the perspective of the Word of God the first question, “Why a building?” God Himself tells us the reason for the sanctuary in verse 8 “That I may dwell among them.” In chapter 29:45 God connects it this way when He says, “I will dwell among the children of Israel and will be their God.” Take this verse and consider it in light of His nature. God is absolutely 100% holy and pure. In 1 Tim. 6:16 we are told that God, “dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.” This being the nature of God and we being sinners it is quite amazing that He desires to dwell among us. He is holy and powerful and yet desires to dwell among them, love and care for them! What this should produce in them as well as us is two fold:
- First, we ought to desire to worship Him. You only worship that which is greater then your self. God is perfect and thus ought to hold the sole place of worship and honor in our lives.
- Second, because He desires to make Himself know to us by loving and caring for us He ought to be loved for His love towards us.
God redeems us in order that He may have a relationship with us. That relationship must have both of these components from our perspective, worship and love. The idea of “dwelling” with someone brings to mind intimacy. When I asked Donna to marry me I was asking her to dwell with me or literally take up her “permanent residence” with me in which we would become one! The fact that the sanctuary was to be a portable structure tells us that God wants to be every where that they are. God wants to walk every where I walk, in light of the fact that He is Holy means that I should order my steps to be where He will go.
In answer to the first question it is important to realize that God does not dwell in a building. He never said that He was going to live in the sanctuary, instead He said He would dwell between the cherubim on the mercy seat. Solomon expressed it this way in 1 Kings 8:27 “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built!” The sanctuary was not to be for God it was for them! It was to be built specifically to meet the limitations they had in the relationship. It was a place where they could be with God and He could be with them. It was to be a place where worship and love could be expressed towards God, or if you will a place for His glory to dwell and His children to experience His love.
So how does that relate to you and I? Well, from the standpoint of a building we realize that God will not live in the structure that we are building. We are the temples of God and He dwells in us. There is no reason as it pertains to God He does not require a building, but from our position we do. The building is not for God to live in, no it’s a place where we can comfortably worship and love Him together! It is there to facilitate service towards God, service towards each other and service towards our community! Home is not a place, it’s the Lord Himself. Yet with that said for all of us to get together to worship and love Him we need to have a place to accommodate us.
2.) Now to answer the second question: “What does it matter what the building looks like?” It is important to realize that all that Moses records about the details of the sanctuary came direct form God. Moses is told in verse 40 that he is to “See to it that you make them according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.” As you read Rev. John describes in vivid detail the objects that are actually in heaven and they are the real things in which Moses saw and duplicated. We can read in Heb. 8:5 that the earthly sanctuary, “serves as the copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was divinely instructed when he was about to make the tabernacle.” Further more in Heb. 9:11 we are told that, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.” Then in verse 24 we are told that, “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” It is apparent from the above verses that the earthly sanctuary was a copy of the heavenly one and that the true sanctuary is not made with hands and is not of this creation. I believe that as we look at the sanctuary you will see Jesus in fact we are told in John that Jesus was the “Word made flesh AND dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we beheld His glory..” Jesus is the sanctuary; it is because of Him that we have fellowship with the Father. It is in Jesus, we are told in Col. 2:9, that “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;.” Jesus said, “If you have seen Me you have seen the Father.”
II.) Vs. 1-9 Where God guides He provides
Vs. 1-2 Now that we have answered these two questions another one comes to mind:
“How are they going to pay for this sanctuary?”
Vs. 2 Answers this, they were to bring in an offering. Several things of note here.
- 2a “Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering”: God instructs an offering not for a building but to Him! They were not giving to a specific need they were to give to God as an act of worship. If we are to be like God in character, then we are to give like He does. God gives willingly Himself to us, so He requires the same.
- 2b “From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.”: 2 Cor 9:7 tells us that “God loves a cheerful giver.” So the people were to give not out of constraint or arm-twisting but rather because God had given then a willing heart.
What is at issue for all of us is the motivation of the heart in giving and here we are told that it was:
1.) To be to God not a need.
2.) To be from a heart that recognizes that all we have comes form Him. David recognized this in 1 Chron. 29:16 when he said, “O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own.”
This speaks to our motivation in giving and to whom they were giving. The offering did not belong to Moses or the elders, it belonged to God and it was for them. There was no mandatory amount demanded from each person, they were to give as their hearts were moved. Now what is amazing to me is to read ahead and see the heart of the nation here in Exodus 36 “And they received from Moses all the offering which the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of making the sanctuary. So they continued bringing to him freewill offerings every morning. Then all the craftsmen who were doing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work he was doing, and they spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do. “So Moses gave a commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, “Let neither man nor woman do any more work for the offering of the sanctuary.” And the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient for all the work to be done; indeed, too much.” Moses has to tell them to stop giving because they had given way too much! If you can not give to the Lord with a willing heart keep your money. Yet if you can not give with a willing heart then you have a heart problem. God provided the wealth and they wee moved by Him to give back to Him the things necessary to building the sanctuary.
Vs. 3-6 There several different kinds of material that was to be brought in by the willing hearts:
- Precious metals: Gold, silver and It has been estimated that more then a ton of gold was used and over three tons of silver. We are told in Exodus 30 that Moses collected ½ a shekel from every man of military age which was 20 years old. All of that was used in a tabernacle that was only 150 feet long by 75 feet wide. Most of the precious metals were used in the holy place that was only 45 feet by 15 feet.
- Fabrics: Blue, purple and scarlet dyed cloth as well as fine linen which had 152 threads per inch.
- Animal skins: Rams skins, goat hair which was like our felt, sea cow skin.
- Woods: Acacia wood which is harder then our oak and resistant to insects.
- Olive oil and spices: They collected these as well and we are told that it was for use in the sanctuary.
- Precious stones: Now this was for the breast plat that the priest would wear over his heart. Twelve stones that represented each of the 12 tribes.
Vs. 8-9 There were six special pieces of furniture that were associated with the tabernacle. And Moses was to make sure that He built them to the exact specifications that God had showed him. I think this speaks of order and that there is a way that we are to express our love and worship towards the Lord. The purpose of this again is that of fellowshipping with His people.