Exodus 25:1
Then the LORD said to Moses,
God Loveth a Cheerful GiverG.A. Goodhart Exodus 25:1, 2
The Materials for the SanctuaryD. Young Exodus 25:1-7
A Divine Plan for BuildingGreat ThoughtsExodus 25:1-9
Badgers' SkinsW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
BrassW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
Design and Use of the Ceremonial LawE. W. Hengstenberg, D. D.Exodus 25:1-9
Gifts of Materials for the Construction of the TabernacleW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
Goats' HairW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
God Dwelling with MenA. Raleigh, D. D.Exodus 25:1-9
GoldW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
Means of InterpretationE. E. Atwater.Exodus 25:1-9
Nature and Design of the TabernacleR. Newton, D. D.Exodus 25:1-9
Offerings Accompanied with DevotionS. S. ChronicleExodus 25:1-9
Rams' SkinsW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
SilverW. Brown.Exodus 25:1-9
Symbolism of ColourE. E. Atwater.Exodus 25:1-9
Symbolism of MineralsE. E. Atwater.Exodus 25:1-9
The Basis of SymbolismE. P. Humphrey, D. D.Exodus 25:1-9
The ColoursE. F. Willis, M. A.Exodus 25:1-9
The Divine Purpose in the Erection of a TabernacleJ. Ridgeway, M. A.Exodus 25:1-9
The Edifice of the TabernacleE. E. Atwater.Exodus 25:1-9
The Holy TentT. Champness.Exodus 25:1-9
The Oneness of the TabernacleH. Macmillan, D. D.Exodus 25:1-9
The Pocket ConvertedExodus 25:1-9
The Rearing of the Lord's SanctuaryJ. Urquhart Exodus 25:1-9
The TabernacleW. Roberts, M. A.Exodus 25:1-9
The Tabernacle a Symbol of Holier ThingsR. E. Sears.Exodus 25:1-9
The Tabernacle a TentG. Rodgers.Exodus 25:1-9
The Tabernacle and PriesthoodD. C. Hughes, M. A.Exodus 25:1-9
The Tabernacle EntireW. Mudge.Exodus 25:1-9
The Tabernacle of the TestimonyW. Seaton.Exodus 25:1-9
Typical Import of MaterialsH. W. Soltau.Exodus 25:1-9
The Command to Build a SanctuaryJ. Orr Exodus 25:1-10

I. GOD REQUIRED THESE FROM THE PEOPLE. It might have been thought that in order to make this holy habitation, this tent for God travelling along with his people, God himself would have in some way supplied the material. Even as he gave Moses the stones on which the law was written (in the first instance at all events), so he might have made a sanctuary to descend in marvellous manner into the midst of Israel. But it pleased him, who we may be sure always does the wise and fitting thing, to act differently. He required the materials for this sanctuary from the people. They could not provide food for themselves - but they could provide such a dwelling-place for Jehovah as he would approve and accept. These people who had required so many interventions of God to deliver and secure them had yet been carrying with them in the midst of all their helplessness the great store of wealth indicated in this passage. It is somewhat perplexing to consider the revelation thus afforded of the Israelite condition. In their hearts these people were sinful, idolatrous, unbelieving, unstable - it is humiliating to gaze on the sad exhibition of human nature they present - and yet they had managed to surround themselves with these treasures. They were those who had been laying up treasures on earth; and so far these treasures had been of little use; for what will it profit a man to have all this store of gold and silver, and brass and fine linen, and what not, if he lack the daily bread? - all the efforts of the people, all their scraping, had ended in the bringing of these things into the wilderness where they seemed of no use. Even gold and silver would not buy bread in the wilderness. But now, behold how God can take this gold and silver and show how to make a profitable and acceptable use of it. When we begin to look regretfully on the results of our natural efforts as if those efforts had been wasted, he comes in to overrule our ignorance and folly. By his consecrating and re-arranging touch, the treasures upon earth can be transmuted into treasures in heaven.

II. THE WILLINGNESS THAT MARKED THESE GIFTS. These materials, valuable as they were, yet yielded in respect of worth to an element more valuable still These rare and... . . beautiful materials, workable into such beautiful forms, could have been gotten without human intervention at all, if that had been the whole of the necessity. As not even Solomon in all his glory was arrayed like one of the lilies, so nothing man can make with his utmost art is so beautiful as the handiwork of God. Nor is the question altogether one as to what is beautiful to the outward eye. The value of beautiful forms is a thing only too easily exaggerated. But no one can exaggerate the beauty of a spiritual action, the beauty of a gift where the willingness and devotion of the whole heart are manifest. This tabernacle might be a very inferior structure, when measured by such principles as dictated Grecian art; but this was a thing of no consequence when compared with the higher consideration that its materials were freely brought. There was none of that extortion and slavish toil, such as we read of in connection with some of the huge fabrics of ancient civilisations. What blood and tears, what reckless expenditure of human life, for instance, in the construction of buildings like the pyramids! When we look at the great buildings - aqueducts, roads, of ancient times - we must not look at the outward appearance only. These Israelites doubtless had helped in the building of splendid structures; but the foundation of these structures was laid in oppression, and therefore on their topstone rested a destroying curse. There was nothing about all the tabernacle more beautiful than the willingness that marked the gift of the materials. There was no specific demand on any particular person. Let everyone consider for himself whether he will give, and how much. A free-will offering of the inferior brass would be of ever so much more value than an extorted one of gold or silver, or precious stones.

III. THE MATERIALS OF THE GIFTS. Evidently such things were taken as the people had by them; but of these things the very best were taken. Being already in the possession of the people, and valued by them, they were exactly the things to test the willingness of their disposition. When God asks us to give, he asks us to give of our best. All this gold and silver symbolised what was most precious in the heart within. One is reminded of Paul's words with respect to the materials that might be laid upon the foundation given in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:12). We must not bring to God just what we do not want ourselves. The value of the gifts constituted a most searching test of willingness, and willingness was the particular quality that needed to be tested at this time. Men willing to give gold and silver, might be reasonably supposed as willing to give anything else within their power. Then there was a test also in the variety of the gifts. The man without gold and silver would not escape the responsibility of considering what he could do in the way of another gift. For the needs of the tabernacle God required a large diversity of materials; and probably there were few in Israel but could do something towards the supply if only they were so disposed. - Y.

Make Me a sanctuary:
I. THE DWELLING OF GOD AMONG US IN CHRIST JESUS, when it is a reality, and not merely an idea or a phrase, imports and of necessity SECURES THE PASSING AWAY FROM US OF THE THINGS WE HAVE MOST REASON TO FEAR. When God comes to dwell among us, which can only be by dwelling in us individually, sin goes from us, in its guilt and its predominating power.

II. GOD COMES THUS TO DWELL WITH MEN, FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER, and for the nourishment of all goodness. The putting away of sin is but the negative part of salvation. The presence in its place of truth and duty and love and obedience — this is what makes a saved man.

III. FOR HOW LONG DOES GOD DWELL WITH MEN? Deep philosophy as well as high faith sanctions the conclusion that the God of grace, who makes covenant with man and dwells with him, is "our God for ever and ever," and that He "will never leave us or forsake us."

(A. Raleigh, D. D.)

I. We should mark that GOD MAKES HIMSELF DEPENDENT ON THE WILL OF MAN. "Let them make Me." This is true, not only of material wealth, but of man's nature.

1. God wants human nature, He seems to covet to have the affection of our life, and yearns to be looked to by the creature He has made. Let us not cheat Him, for we shall rob ourselves most of all.

2. God may be thwarted by man.

II. In this Divine conception of the Church, THERE IS A PLACE FOR THE RICH. It is not impossible for rich men to be good men. It is not easy, but still it can be done. God has given them a place. "This is the offering which ye shall take of them: gold. God would not have accepted planks from those who had gold, and so God will not accept industry in His service in the place of wealth.

III. LABOUR HAS ITS PLACE. There was a great deal of timber required; the wood of the acacia tree was used for the framework. Here was work which the poorest could do. Is it not so to-day? In building the Church, what room for a holy industry!

IV. WOMAN HAS HER RIGHTS HERE. We read in Exodus 35:24, 25, of women that were wise-hearted, who did spin with their hands, etc. Influence of Christian mothers. Sunday-schoolworkers. Mothers' meetings. Let woman do her work well. We must have her work, or we cannot finish ours.

V. THERE IS ROOM FOR GENIUS. Precious stones" are required. The onyx stones, and other jewels, took up but small room, but they added beauty and splendour to the rest. God does not create genius every day. Many rhymers, but few poets.

VI. Still, we must not forget that THE MEANEST IS ACCEPTABLE, IF IT IS THE BEST WE CAN BRING. There are times when cleverness is baffled, and wealth is powerless. But see to it God has your best. Acacia wood will not be accepted in the place of anything else. But if the axe and saw are your talents, by all means use them.

VII. OUR BEST AND OUR ALL IS OF NO AVAIL WITHOUT THE ATONEMENT. Alms and deeds are only safe as they rest upon Christ's merits.

(T. Champness.)


1. Its general character.

2. Its contents.



1. Scriptural evidence of the symbolic character of these.

(1)The Mosaic ritual, as a whole, is declared to be this (Hebrews 10:1).

(2)Parts of it declared symbolic (Hebrews 9:6-9).

2. Some of its symbols explained.

(1)The propitiatory in the "Holy of Holies" (1 John 2:2).

(2)The veil dividing the "holy place" from the "most holy" (Hebrews 10:19, 20).

(3)The sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual (Hebrews 9:13, 14).

3. The priesthood a symbol.

(1)In its appointment (Hebrews 5:1-5; Hebrews 8:1-5; Hebrews 9:11, 12).

(2)In its contrast (Hebrews 7:11-28; Hebrews 9:23-28; Hebrews 10:1-13).Lessons:

1. The importance and duty of studying the Old Testament in order to understand the New Testament.

2. The marked superiority of the Christian over the Mosaic dispensation.

3. Our weightier responsibilities over those of old.

4. The all-sufficiency of Christ as Redeemer, Priest, and Friend.

5. Our paramount duties — to accept, trust, and obey Him.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)


1. The unity of God had been lost in the gradual transference of separate and independent sovereignty to every attempted representation or localization of the Deity. This evil, God now corrects by the strict confinement of His localization to one spot.

2. The conception of the Deity had been demoralized through the forms in which men sought to represent God. And so the God of Israel refuses to allow any image or outward representation of Himself.


1. The ark was constructed out of the freewill offerings of the people.

2. The Tabernacle in its costliness was, in all the circumstances of the case, wonderfully appreciative of the Divine Majesty.

3. The Tabernacle was constructed in all respects according to Divine pattern.

(W. Roberts, M. A.)


1. It was a simple structure. The materials of which it was composed were costly indeed. There was also much of artistic grace and beauty wrought up into its composition, and yet, compared with the splendid cathedrals etc. which men have erected, how simple and unpretending!

2. It was a structure of Divine origin. Indebted for nothing to the force of man's creative faculty. God planned it.


1. In reference to the Jews.(1) The source of present blessing. The bright spot in the midst of a dark and desert world; for God was there, and walked in the midst of His people, to bless and deliver them from their enemies.(2) A pledge or promise to them of future good. A heaven-devised symbol, prefiguring God's salvation.

2. In reference to ourselves.(1) An illustration of the blessings of the gospel. The relation which God sustained to Israel as a nation, He now sustains to His people as individuals. He shades them by day, and, enlightens them by night; strengthens and comforts; guides and blesses them as their own personal God.(2) The Tabernacle furnishes us with a figurative view of our relation to the heavenly world (see Hebrews 9:23). We are often tempted to think and feel as if that world must be at an immense distance, a vast remove from us. A proper consideration of the Tabernacle would seem to correct this impression. Here you see the Holy Place, or the Church on Earth, and the Most Holy Place, or the Church in Heaven, in the closest possible contiguity to each other. There is only that thin material veil to separate them. In CONCLUSION the subject we have now considered suggests to us — How thankful we should be for the day in which we live! It is "the day of salvation"; the dispensation of the substance which succeeded to that of the shadow; the time of direct and full revelation as opposed to the time of type and figure. It is to the dispensation of the Tabernacle what the hour of noon, with its radiant splendour, is to the hour of early dawn, with its dim twilight and its gloom. In regard to light, and grace, and privilege, our position under the gospel is exalted indeed. And if it be true that "to whom much is given, of them much will be required," then it becomes us to see well to it, that we improve diligently our privileges.

(R. Newton, D. D.)

1. The Tabernacle was the dwelling place of God. It tells us God is great. It was a costly Tabernacle. The value of the structure was probably not much less than £300,000. There was mystery. The Israelites were not to enter the Tabernacle, but only the priests. Only the high priest could enter into the Holy of Holies, and that but once a year. Thus God surrounded Himself with an impenetrable veil of mystery. It has been said, "God is the greatest mystery in the universe." But, if there is mystery, there is mercy. There was also justice, holiness, and majesty.

2. The Israelites no doubt looked upon the Tabernacle as the palace of their King. The furniture was palace furniture, and the priests were ministers of state.

3. The Tabernacle was set up in the wilderness. In all our wanderings God is with us.

4. The Tabernacle was the first religious structure, in which Jehovah condescended to dwell. Symbol of Divine grace. Erected in midst of sinners.

5. God's presence is the cause of holiness and it alone removes the curse. God came down to dwell with His people, not because they were holy, but to make them so. No place is holy without God. That place — wherever it may be — is holy if God is there.

6. The Tabernacle was a place of worship. It was called "the tent of the congregation" (Exodus 40:22). They had a property in it. It was the palace of their King. It was the house of their God. There they came to confess their sin. There was no other place of the kind. It was the one Tabernacle for all the tribes, and for all the individual members of those tribes.

7. The Tabernacle was not a model for our imitation, but "a shadow of heavenly things" (Hebrews 8:5). The substance having come, we need, not go back to the shadow. In the Tabernacle we have "the figures of the true" (Hebrews 9:24). In the gospel we have reality. Its blessings are everlasting. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the truth of every figure, the way to a holy God, and the life of all who believe.

(R. E. Sears.)

This introductory sentence of the symbolical dispensation involved much. It reiterated the great promise given at the fall, that man, although lapsed, should not be left unaided; that there should be, in the fulness of time, an interference on his behalf of the most remarkable character; and that, to prepare men's minds for its reception, it should, first of all, be presented in a figure.

I. GOD DWELT IN A TABERNACLE. In this a glorious reality was foreshadowed (John 1:14; Timothy 3:16; Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 2:14).

II. IN THAT TABERNACLE HE DWELT AMONGST HIS PEOPLE ISRAEL. Christ is the great centre round which all His people are grouped — those nearest to Him, the family within the veil; the glorified ones, who, having finished their service here below, are at rest — while the outer circle is the Church militant, that portion of the family which is still in the midst of tribulation and conflict. But He is the great centre. To Him all eyes, all hearts are turned; from Him all supplies are derived. The one see Him in actual fruition and enjoyment; the other realize Him by faith.

(J. Ridgeway, M. A.)

So many things of a covenant form and character required to be placed under the security and covering of a covenant habitation, a habitation having relation to both God and His people. The Lord Himself had said, "I will dwell among them." Here was His habitation. Look at the model after which it was formed (ver. 40). God was His own architect, nor were there any deviations in after thought from His original plan: the design was perfect. But why such exactness in relation to this temporary residence, this wilderness habitation of the Lord of the whole earth? A prefiguration of the body of Christ was intended, His assumption of our form and flesh, and which was an act of condescension, a veiling of the glories of His Godhead, a coming down to dwell in concealment. The personal assumption of our nature, therefore, made it of moment that what was to contain the inhabitation of Deity, like the body of Christ, curiously wrought, as it is said, in the lowest parts of the earth, should be of a form, and be put together exactly as God Himself had given the model to Moses in the mount. It was especially of God. In the spiritual worship of the gospel of Christ, and in the doctrines of grace, nothing is suffered to be misplaced, nothing left to be introduced. There is a show of wisdom in will-worship, an appearance of reverence and humility, but none in reality. If we worship God, we must worship Him, after His own instructions, and, under whatever dispensation, in spirit and in truth. The design was God's, but the execution of the work was man's.

1. Many hearts were in the work. As soon as required to be constructed, the people had a heart to it and well they might since it was bringing God nearer to them, and more visibly with them than He had been. How interesting the union of hearts in such a work, men and women, and, we might think, even children too, wise and willing in the work of the Lord! Delightful was it to have their hearts in what had, from eternity, employed the heart of God, His whole will and understanding, His counsels, grace, and love. How are our hearts affected towards the spiritual temple that is rising in this world of sin? Sweet the frame of mind David was in when he said (1 Chronicles 29:14, etc.). Their hearts were their offerings: there were no stingy restraints of covetousness. At what expense are many to support the pride of life, and to maintain the superfluities of naughtiness! The day is coming when they will bitterly lament the misapplication of wealth, and the want of a heart, in their fulness, for a ready yieldance to God.

2. Many hands, as well as many hearts, were in the work (Exodus 35:26). And how delightful is it to see the spiritual temple rising, and each employed as skill given him! Where there are hearts, hands will not be wanting. We see many employed about the great building God has in progress, and what has set them to work but love? It is this that is the great moving power in the machinery of those many institutions which are in truth the bulwark and glory of the land.

(W. Seaton.)

We think the Tabernacle in its entireness was emblematical of —

1. The incarnation. The glory of Jehovah filled it.

2. The Church. Unity in diversity, and diversity in unity.

3. The believer. As respects both his

(1)present, and

(2)future being. Weak and imperfect now; to be glorified hereafter

4. The millennial kingdom (Revelation 21:3, 4).

(W. Mudge.)

1. It served to cherish the religious sentiment. The Israelite was reminded by it in all his relations, even the most significant and external, of God; the thought of God was introduced into the very midst of the popular life.

2. It required the recognition of sin, and thus called forth the first thing essential for the reception of redemption, a sense of the need of redemption. The law was, and was intended to be, a heavy yoke, and therefore would awaken a longing after the Redeemer.

3. It served to separate Israel from the heathen; it erected between the two a wall of separation, by which communication was prevented.

4. Many things in the Ceremonial Law served, by impressions on the senses, to awaken reverence for holy things among a sensual people.

5. One principal object of the Ceremonial Law lay in its symbolic meaning. The people, enthralled in visible objects, were not yet capable of vitally appropriating supersensual truth in words, the form most suited to their nature. It was needful for the truth to condescend, to come down to their power of apprehension, to prepare itself a body from visible things, in order to free the people from the bondage of the visible. Would we rather not speak at all to the dumb than make use of signs? The Ceremonial Law was not the opposite to the worship of God in spirit and in truth, but only an imperfect form of the same, a necessary preparation for it. The accommodation was only formal, one which did not alter the essence, but only presented it in large capital letters to children who could not yet read a small running-hand.

(E. W. Hengstenberg, D. D.)

The altar was the basis of the sacred places, the priesthood was the basis of the sacred persons, the burnt-offerings were the basis of the sacred rites, and the Sabbath was the basis of the sacred times. Here we discover the links that connect the Ceremonial Laws given by Moses with the primeval ordinances of religion. In the altar set up in the family of Adam we have the genesis of the Tabernacle and Temple. At the beginning the minister of sacrifice was the patriarch of the existing family, and his sacred office passed over to the Mosaic priesthood. In the offering of the blood by Abel and the offering by fire of Noah, we discover the germs of the Jewish ritual. The Sabbath ordained in Paradise became the central institute in the sacred times appointed by Moses.

(E. P. Humphrey, D. D.)

The Tabernacle was a tent; it was a costly building, but still it was a tent; it was God's tent in which He lived and walked with His people in the wilderness (Exodus 25:8; Numbers 9:15; 2 Samuel 7:6; Acts 7:38-50). As His people were dwelling in tents, God would have a tent, and would live with them as their Guide and their Guard, their Father and their King; but afterward, when they were settled in the land of Canaan and dwelt in celled houses, He permitted them to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which He then filled with His presence as He had before filled the Tabernacle. As God dwelt in the Tabernacle and afterwards in the Temple, and as men must then come to the Tabernacle or to the Temple to get to God, so God dwells in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:19), and all who would come to God must come to Christ: in no other way can any one get to God (John 14:6; John 6:37). Moreover, as there was but one Tabernacle, so there is but one Christ, and none can be saved from the wrath to come but those who come to Him; and as a man must come out of the camp to get to the Tabernacle, so a man must come out from the world, must be separated from it in spirit, before he can be really in Christ.

(G. Rodgers.)

Moses received on Sinai not only a command to make the Tabernacle, but plans and specifications according to which the work was to be executed. Its ground-plan was a parallelogram forty-five feet in length, and fifteen feet in width. The material was of shittim, a species of acacia, the timber of which has a rich black colour like ebony, and is eminently light, solid, strong, and smooth. The frame of the Tabernacle consisted of forty-eight pieces of this acacia wood standing on end. Eight of them were at the rear, and twenty on each side; the front being left open to be covered with a curtain. They were each fifteen feet long, and, unless the two outside pieces on the rear end were exceptions, twenty-seven inches wide. The description of the corner planks is obscure, but favours the opinion that each consisted of two pieces fastened together at a right angle; so that it was a corner-plank not merely because it stood at the corner, but because it formed an angle. On the lower end of each of the planks, two tenons were wrought, to correspond with mortises in the sills on which it was to stand. Possibly there were also tenons and mortises on the edges where the planks came together; but of this we have no certain knowledge. Such a connection of one plank with another, by tenon and mortise, would give greater strength to the frame, but might not be necessary in addition to the horizontal bars which bound the planks together. There were five such bars on each side, and five on the rear, made of acacia wood, and overlaid with gold. These gilded planks when erected, stood on a base, or sill, of silver, which extended perhaps a little way both outward and inward, from the wall termed by the planks, and was divided into twice as many pieces as there were planks; so that each of the latter stood on two separate pieces of the base, one of its two tenons being inserted into a corresponding cavity in each division of the base. Besides the planks which formed the wall of the Tabernacle, there were four pillars, to support a curtain across the interior of the building, dividing it into two apartments, and five pillars to support another curtain over the entrance at the east end of the edifice. The four pillars for the partition-curtain stood on sills, or socket-pieces of silver, and the five for the entrance-curtain on sills of copper. The wooden frame of the Tabernacle having been prepared, it was necessary to cover it with suitable hangings, or curtains. Of these there were four layers; the innermost so far excelling the others in importance, that it was sometimes denominated "The Tabernacle," as if all else appertaining to the edifice were subsidiary to this. The frame, indeed, seems to have been chiefly designed to give support to the beautiful drapery with which it was covered. In the conception of a Hebrew travelling through the wilderness from Sinai to Canaan, the Tabernacle where Jehovah dwelt was of cloth, as was his own habitation. It was, indeed, of a more beautiful fabric than the other tents of the encampment, which were doubtless of goats' hair, like those of the nomadic inhabitants of the same region at the present day, while the Tabernacle of God was of fine linen variegated with brilliant colours. The several parts of the sanctuary having been constructed, it still remained to make an enclosure for the court in which it was to stand. The prescribed dimensions of this area were one hundred and fifty feet for the length, and seventy-five feet for the width. It was to be enclosed with hangings of cloth made of fine white linen, not interwoven, like the curtains of the Tabernacle, with figures and colours, but, so far as appears, woven plain. That portion of it, however, which covered the entrance-way at the east end of the court, was variegated with colours of blue, purple, and crimson. The height of these hangings was seven feet and a half; and they were suspended on pillars by means of silver hooks, the pillars standing on sills of copper. The distance between these pillars was equal to the height of the hangings, i.e., seven and a half feet. They were connected by a silver rod, or fillet, extending from one capital to another. The Tabernacle was to stand near the western end of this enclosure, and midway, doubtless, between its northern and southern curtains. A large area was therefore left in front of the edifice for the performance of those rites of worship which were appropriate to the place.

(E. E. Atwater.)

(see Exodus 26:6). It is to be one Tabernacle — not in the sense of singleness and uniqueness, as if God had forbidden more than one Tabernacle to be constructed for His service — but in the sense of a real and profound unity. By the golden taches or clasps binding together the curtains which covered it, the whole structure was made one tent or tabernacle, and all its parts and objects were united. Unity is the hall-mark which God stamps upon all His works. It is His autograph written in the stars of heaven and in the flowers of the field, attesting that they all proceed from the same Mind. The universe is a great kaleidoscope which He is perpetually turning round, in which a few simple elements are exhibited in endless diversity; in which the variety is not more wonderful than the unity.

1. In unfolding this sublime lesson, let us look, in the first place, at the illustration of it which the Tabernacle itself afforded. This remarkable structure was one in regard to its parts. Each vessel has its own distinct use, and each can be viewed apart from the others; and yet in every act of priestly service, all are joined together, and are in active operation at the same time. It needs the combination of the whole to make a complete and perfect act of worship, just as it needs the harmomous action of all the members of the body to constitute the act of living. And just as the golden taches link the curtains of the Tabernacle together, and make of them one covering for one structure, so the smaller golden vessels attached to the golden candlestick, the altar of incense, and the shewbread table — the tongs, snuff-dishes, spoons, and censer — linked together the different vessels of the sanctuary into one ministration, forming in this way one golden chain of service simultaneously carried on in the presence of God in behalf of Israel.

2. The words of the Lord to Moses have a wider reference than to the immediate object which called them forth. They may be applied to nature. It may be said that the Tabernacle pointed back to the creation. It was a symbol of the great world of nature, as at once manifesting and concealing God. It was, indeed, as a Rosetta stone, to explain to man the spiritual hieroglyphics in the typology of nature, which had become dark and insignificant to him when he sinned and fell, that God devised the clearer typology of the Tabernacle, and set the cherubim, which were the symbols of creation in connection with the redemption of man, above the mercy-seat in its holiest place, and embroidered them on the veil that divided the outer from the inner sanctuary. There was no typical object or service in the Tabernacle which might not have been seen in nature if man had not lost the key of interpretation. If the creation be thus a greater Tabernacle, in which all the objects are meant to show forth the praise of God, and to symbolize His work of grace, we should expect to find in it the same unity, the same oneness of design and harmony of all parts, that we see in the Jewish Tabernacle; and this is what we actually find. This is the great lesson which modern science has taught us so effectually.

3. But not only did the Tabernacle repeat in miniature the whole creation as God's dwelling-place, it also more especially typified the new creation — the Church of God. Under all the varying dispensations of His grace, God's Church has been one The Jews were in the outer court because the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest. Gentiles, by the new and living way opened up through the rent veil of Christ's flesh, have entered into the inner shrine. But Jews and Gentiles alike are now united in one communion and fellowship in Christ. The Saviour the Jews looked forward to in rites and sacrifices, we look back to in the ordinances of the gospel. The religion that was veiled to them has been unveiled to us. They saw the types and shadows; we behold the living and glorious realities. Over all is the tabernacling of the same God; and the Church of Jews and Gentiles is "built upon the foundation," etc.

4. The Tabernacle was the Bible of the Israelites. God taught them by its object-lessons in their childhood and pupilage in the wilderness. But that age of shadows and symbols has disappeared; man has passed from the childhood's stage of education into the higher school. We have been trained for a clearer perception and a fuller possession of the truth. God has given to us His own written Word, in which His thoughts are woven with man's thoughts, making of the whole Book the speech to the world of Emmanuel, God with us.

5. Man's body is a tabernacle — the greatest of all temples. It is fearfully and wonderfully made, the very highest possible form of organization, the masterpiece of creation.

(H. Macmillan, D. D.)

There are means of interpretation by the aid of which one may decipher the symbols of the Hebrews as correctly as Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphics of Egypt.

I. First in the table may be placed THE PARALLELISM BETWEEN THE MOSAIC SYSTEM, AS OTHERWISE ASCERTAINED, AND ITS SYMBOLIC REPRESENTATION. The writings of Moses, like the Greek translation of the Rosetta stone give a clue to the meaning of what otherwise might be illegible.

II. Another key of interpretation is found in the SCRIPTURAL EXPLANATION OF SYMBOLS. For instance, in the Apocalypse incense is explained as symbolizing the prayers of the holy; and fine linen is explained as meaning, when used for garments, that those thus arrayed were holy.

III. THE DESIGN OF THE TABERNACLE AS DECLARED IN THE DIRECTIONS FOR ITS CONSTRUCTION, EQUIPMENT, AND SERVICES, IS A KEY TO ITS SIGNIFICANCE. If the edifice was a symbol it signified that Jehovah dwelt among the Israelites. It represented His true habitation, wherever and of whatever nature it may be, and the spiritual intercourse between Him and those who worship. Moreover, it was equipped in such a manner as to provide for ministrations expressive of atonement, restoration to favour, assurance of reconciliation, and acceptable service; and was thus both a sign and a seal of the covenant relation and of the presence of Jehovah.



VI. Another means of interpretation is THE ARTIFICIAL SYMBOLISM OF THE ANCIENTS. Kings wear crowns, and sit on thrones; and so crowns and thrones indicate royalty. Among the ancients purple was worn by those in authority, and so became the badge of power and distinction. The temples of the Hindoos, the Chinese, the Chaldeans, and the Egyptians, were built with an adherence to certain forms, proportions, and repetitions, which leaves no room for doubt that their sacred architecture was significant, and that with some difference in the ideas expressed, and some variety in the mode of expressing the same ideas, they employed the relations of geometry and arithmetic to represent the objects of their religious thought. Colour was employed for the same purpose. The three kingdoms of nature — animal, vegetable, mineral — were also made to subserve this artificial symbolism.

(E. E. Atwater.)

Gold, and silver, and brass. —
Gold, silver, and jewels have in all ages and countries been regarded as significant of wealth, rank, power. The use of the precious metals for money has, however, rendered it impossible that they should exert in modern times as much influence on the imagination as when used only as insignia.

1. It is quite certain that in the time of Moses gold had not been coined, and was not often used, even by weight, as a medium of exchange. There is a warrant in nature as well as in the universal custom of antiquity, for this employment of the most splendid of the metals to illustrate the highest possible dignity and glory; for it never fails to excite in the mind of the beholder feelings of admiration and awe. Hence, as an emblem, it was among metals what purple was among colours, and found its most appropriate place on the persons and in the habitations of kings and gods. The dedication of a large amount of gold to the service of religion was, therefore, not peculiar to the Hebrews. It was the universal custom of the age thus to do homage to the objects of worship. But, as Mosaism allowed no images of Jehovah, the symbolism of gold must be confined to His habitation and its furniture. It is worthy of observation, then, that the God of the Hebrews dwelt in a golden house.

2. If the Tabernacle of Jehovah was splendid by contrast between it and the ordinary tents of the surrounding encampment, it seems to have been designedly rendered still more splendid by the ordained distinction between the Tabernacle and its court. For while the walls of the dwelling and all its utensils were of gold, so that (with the exception of the sill) no other metal was visible within, the furniture of the court must, according to the specifications furnished to Moses, be of copper. The significance of copper seems to depend chiefly on its rank among the metals, being more esteemed than iron, and less so than silver and gold. As a metal of honour and beauty, it was an appropriate material for the utensils of Divine service, and by its inferiority to gold furnished a background on which the latter seemed more splendid by contrast. Its resemblance to gold deepened the symbolic significance conveyed by the exclusive use of one of the metals in the court, and of the other within the habitation.

3. Between the copper outside and the gold inside, silver was the mediating metal, being found both on the sill of the sanctuary and on the caps of the pillars around the sacred enclosure, to indicate by another sign that the house was higher in honour than the area in front, so much higher that its sill was of the same material as the crowning ornament of the court. Silver was at that time in common use as money; if not in the shape of coin, certainly of bullion, which, when weighed, was current with the merchant (Genesis 23:16). Now, this silver which had been wrought partly into the sill of the Tabernacle and partly into the caps of the pillars around the court, had been used as money. Indeed, it came into the possession of Moses in half-shekels, which the people had paid as "atonement money," "every man a ransom for his soul" (Exodus 30:12, 16). The services of the court culminated in redemption, and not till they were redeemed could the people, even representatively, enter the sanctuary. The shining silver on the top of the pillars of the enclosure was "a memorial to the children of Israel before Jehovah to make an atonement for their souls" (Exodus 30:16), i.e., a permanent reminder that their sins were expiated; and the sill of the sanctuary, into which the greater part of the ransom-money had been molten, was a token that in consequence of their redemption God dwelt among them, and received them to His fellowship. The silver, "as an expiation for souls, pointed to the unholiness of Israel's nature, and reminded the people continually that by nature it was alienated from God, and could only remain in covenant with the Lord, and live in His kingdom, on the ground of His grace which covered its sin." May not the apostle have had this ransom-money in mind when he said to the people of the new covenant, "Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ"?

(E. E. Atwater.)

Many chapels are burdened with a load of debt occasioned by the bad habit of congregations building, either wholly or in part, with borrowed money. But the Hebrews acted more nobly than such builders, for they collected by voluntary contributions the entire materials with which the sanctuary was constructed ere they began to build (Exodus 25:1-9; Exodus 35:4-9, 20-30). Their free-will offering for the work of the Tabernacle is, in many respects, the most splendid one that was ever given for the purpose of raising a place of worship.

(W. Brown.)

Foremost in the procession of willing-hearted offerers came men and women bringing "bracelets, and ear-rings, and seal-rings, and tablets," all of gold (Exodus 35:22), till the heap comprised many thousands of articles, and weighed no less than 29 talents and 730 shekels (Exodus 38:24), equal to 43,865 ounces, the value of which at the present day is £180,000 sterling.

(W. Brown.)

Gold was contributed by men and women, but silver by men only. This, however, was not on account of the women, who cheerfully gave their gold ornaments, refusing to part with their silver ones, but because silver was to be taken from none but adult males, who were required to give half a shekel each as a ransom for the soul (person) (Exodus 30:11-16). The sum of the silver brought was 100 talents and 1775 shekels, or 301,775 shekels (Exodus 38:25-27), which proves that every one of the 603,550 men comprising the Hebrew encampment paid the price of his redemption. This was done, however, not by compulsion, but freely; the silver as well as the gold was to be a free-will offering (Exodus 25:2, 3). The whole was equal to 150,887 1/2 ounces, and would now realize £40,000 sterling, Silver appears to have been the only metal used as money by the Hebrews, at least up to the period of the Exodus, and this circumstance no doubt accounts for the ransom price being paid in silver (Genesis 23:15; Genesis 37:28).

(W. Brown.)

Gold and silver were the most precious metals, but brass (copper) was also needed for the work of the Tabernacle, and those who possessed it — and amongst them might be some who had no gold to bestow — brought 70 talents and 2,400 shekels (Exodus 38:29), equal to 106,200 ounces. The original word rendered brass in the text is from a Hebrew root signifying to shine.

(W. Brown.)

1. Gold. Type of the Divine glory of the Lord Jesus as Son of God.

2. Silver. The preciousness of the Lord Jesus as the Ransom for the sinner.

3. Brass. The power of the Lord Jesus to endure the cross, because He is God.

4. Blue. The manifestation of God as love, in the ways and death of Christ.

5. Purple. The manifestation of the God-Man, God manifest in the flesh.

6. Scarlet. The manifestation of the true dignity and glory of man as seen in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of Man.

7. Fine linen. The righteous man exhibiting to the eye of faith "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

8. Goats'hair. The memorial of the death of the Lord Jesus as the offering for sin.

9. Rams'skins dyed red. The outward aspect of Christ as the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Born in this world to die.

10. Badgers'skins. The outward aspect of Christ, as having no form nor comeliness to the heart of the natural man.

11. Shittim wood. The Lord Jesus, the incorruptible Man. "That holy thing," the Son of God.

12. Oil for the light. The Lord Jesus as the light; filled with the Spirit.

13. Spices for anointing oil. The graces of the Spirit in all their fulness manifested by the Christ.

14. Spices for sweet incense. The fragrant graces of Christ made manifest on the cross, and perpetuated in His intercession.

15. Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and the breastplate. The glory and brilliancy of the Heavenly One reflected also in His saints.

(H. W. Soltau.)

S. S. Chronicle.
Almost every hill in Mongolia is adorned with a cairn of stones on the very top. This cairn is a thing of the Mongolian religion. When it is determined to erect one, men, women, and children turn out and gather stones, repeating prayers over each stone; and thus the raised heap represents much devotion on the part of the gatherers. Oh, that all contributions in Christian lands for Christian objects were raised in the same way. Gifts are good, but gifts accompanied by heart-felt devotion are better.

(S. S. Chronicle.)

John Wesley used to say that he never believed in a man's conversion until his pocket was converted.

Great Thoughts.
There is a beautiful story told of the plan by which Strasburg Cathedral was made. The architect, Erwin von Steinbach, who was given the commission to build it, was greatly troubled lest he should not get his plan sufficiently noble. He had a daughter named Sabine, who was skilful in drawing, and one night, after they had wept together over the plans, she said to her father, "Don't despair; God will help us." After she fell asleep she dreamed that a beautiful angel came, and when she had told her story, said; "You shall make the plan for the minster." The angel and Sabine then set to work, and soon the plan was done. When she awoke she uttered a loud scream, for there was a paper before her covered with wonderful drawing. Her father exclaimed, "Child, it was no dream. The angel really visited you, bringing the inspiration from heaven to help us." He built the cathedral after the plan, and it was so beautiful that the people really believed the story.

(Great Thoughts.)

Blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen
The symbolism of colour in the Tabernacle was confined to the curtains of the edifice and the garments of its priesthood, both of which were of fine-twined linen, blue, purple, and crimson. The four colours indicated all inhered in the same material subjected to different processes of manufacture; the fine thread of the byssus being in one process bleached to the greatest possible whiteness, and in the other three dyed with blue, purple, and crimson.

1. That white linen was employed as a symbol, appears from many passages of the New Testament, where its significance is declared and explained. It was a representative of light, resembling it somewhat in colour (Matthew 17:2), but more in brightness (Luke 9:29; Luke 24:4; Mark 9:3), and purity (Revelation 19:8, 14; Revelation 15:6).

2. The Hebrew word rendered "blue" is primarily the name of a shell-fish, and derivatively of the dye yielded by it. If Moses would represent that Jehovah, whose dwelling is in heaven, had come down to earth to dwell with His covenant people, how could he do it better than by employing in the habitation made with hands the azure hue of the visible heaven? If he wished to teach that the priests, and the sacrifices they offered were an "example and shadow of heavenly things," how pertinent would it be to weave into their official attire threads of that cerulean tint, which in his day communicated such thoughts to the eye as are now conveyed to the ear by the audible pronunciation of the word "heaven"!

3. Cloth of purple was much prized by the Greeks and Romans, who included under this appellation a wide range of colour, extending from red slightly tinged with blue to shades in which the blue was predominant; the dye being in all cases derived from shell-fish. In the earlier days of Rome, purple had been worn only by magistrates as a badge of office; but the progress of wealth and luxury was afterward so great, that the first of the emperors thought it necessary to put restriction on the use of it in order to preserve the significance of the ancient symbol; and eventually certain fabrics of this colour, including those held in highest estimation, were entirely interdicted to the Roman citizens, and reserved for the exclusive use of the imperial household. In the employment of purple as a mark of official distinction, the Romans followed the custom of some, if not all older nations (see Judges 8:26; Daniel 5:7, margin). Not only kings, emperors, and their subordinates in civil authority, wore this colour, but sometimes priests, as a mark of honour to their office and the deities they served. Even the images of the gods were adorned with raiment of purple. The appearance of this colour, then, in the curtains of the Hebrew Tabernacle marked that central edifice as the habitation of the Ruler of the encampment. The purple in the garments of the priests indicated that they belonged to the royal household, and were officers of the King.

4. The two Hebrew words which taken together are rendered "scarlet," denote a colour derived from an insect called by naturalists coccus ilicis, found in large quantities on certain species of the oak. The Arabic name of the insect is kermes, the root of our word "crimson." The only natural object to which the tint is applied in the Old Testament is the lips (Song of Solomon 4:3). It seems probable (see Genesis 38:28; Leviticus 14:4-7; Numbers 19:6; Joshua 2:18) that this colour was used as a symbol of life; deriving this significance from blood, which was itself the vehicle and representative of the vital force.

(E. E. Atwater.)

1. Blue, being the colour of the heaven, as it appears to man looking up into it, may be regarded not unnaturally as speaking of God. The Israelites were bidden to have fringes on the borders of their garments, and upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue (Numbers 15:38), doubtless to be a perpetual reminder to them in their daily life that, they were the people of God.

2. Scarlet, or red, is the colour which, after blue, occurs most frequently in connection with the Tabernacle. As blue speaks of God the Creator, so red, or scarlet, speaks of the world, or of man the creature.

3. Purple is formed from the intermingling of scarlet and blue, and thus corresponds to twelve among numbers, which is the result of three multiplied into four, and is, therefore, the colour of the Incarnation. In the Tabernacle, purple appears side by side with blue and scarlet in the interior hangings, in the veils, and in the vestments of the high-priest. When we remember that the Tabernacle, as a whole, was a type of the Word who "tabernacles in us" (John 1:14), we shall not, I think, find it difficult to acquiesce in the suggestion of a devout and learned writer, that "the purple appears to have foreshadowed the hypostatical union, i.e., the union of the Divine and human natures in the person of our Lord." It would seem to have been selected to reveal the intimacy and perfection of this union; and the constituent colours of purple, red, and blue, to have been set in juxtaposition with it, to teach that, although the two natures are thus combined in Him, yet are they not absorbed in each other, as if the Divine had been lost in the human, or the human in the Divine, but ever remain to co-exist, notwithstanding their most perfect union.

4. The three colours already spoken of were conjoined with the whiteness of fine linen. White is symbolic of cleansing from sin (Isaiah 1:18; cf. Revelation 7:14; Psalm 51:7). White is also symbolical of perfect dazzling holiness (Daniel 7:9; cf. Revelation 6:2; Revelation 14:14; Revelation 19:11; Revelation 20:11). In the Tabernacle the fine white linen would tell of the purity and holiness which results from that union of the Divine with the human which was already indicated by the three colours with which it was conjoined. The great lesson, therefore, which everywhere met the eye of the worshipper in the fine linen hangings of the outer court, and in the blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine-twined linen of the veils, and sacerdotal vestments, was none other than this, "Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy."

(E. F. Willis, M. A.)

Goats'hair formed part of the free-will offerings of the Israelites (Exodus 35:23). Many of the goats of the East have black hair, of which cloth is made for tent coverings, but there are some species of goats which have fine white silky hair, among which is the Angora goat, and not a few writers are of opinion that it was hair of this sort with which the tent of the Tabernacle was made.

(W. Brown.)

The Israelites, being rich in flocks and herds, would have no difficulty in supplying rams'skins. Those brought by the Israelites (Exodus 35:23) were dyed, and probably tanned. "Leather of this very description (says Dr. Thomson) is still sold in Syrian towns. From time out of mind the southern part of Syria and Palestine has been supplied with mutton from the great plains and deserts in the north, east, and south; and the shepherds do not ordinarily bring the females to market. The vast flocks which annually come from Armenia and northern Syria are nearly all males. The leather, therefore, is literally 'rams' skins dyed red.'"

(W. Brown.)

The Hebrews brought badgers' (tachash) as well as rams'skins. It is generally admitted that "badger" is a wrong interpretation of the Hebrew word "tachash," but the learned are not agreed as to what animal is intended. Some are of opinion that it was a fish, and others that it was a quadruped; but whether it swam the ocean or ranged the forest, it was likely a large and powerful creature, since its skin was used for the sacred tent's outer covering, which doubtless required to be of a tough and strong nature. This would not, however, prevent the skins from being made suitable for ornamental purposes. Sandals formed of these skins appear to have been worn by ladies when dressed in the most costly and splendid attire, and decked with the most precious ornaments; "I have shod thee with badgers' skins" (Ezekiel 16:10); so there can be little doubt that the outer covering or roof of the Tabernacle was not only strong, but also beautiful and ornamental. It is not improbable that the shoes or sandals of the Israelites were also made of this material; and if they were, it was as effectual in defending their feet as it was in preserving the Tabernacle from those influences that might have been hurtful to it. "Thy foot did not swell these forty years?'

(W. Brown.)

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