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Deeper Commentary


Exo 25:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-

The commands to build the tabernacle are repeated in Exodus, and there is the record of Israel's golden calf apostasy set in the middle of them. Ex. 25:1-31:18 give the tabernacle building commands, then there's the golden calf incident, and then the commands are repeated in Ex. 35-40. Surely this was edited in this manner to give encouragement to the exiles- the commands to rebuild the temple had been given in detail in Ez. 40-48, but the exiles failed- and yet, the implication runs, God was still willing to work again with His people in the building of His sanctuary despite their failure. There is good internal reason to think that the Pentateuch likewise was re-written in places to bring out the relevance of Israel's past to those in captivity.

Exo 25:2 Speak to the children of Israel, that they take an offering for Me. From everyone whose heart makes him willing you shall take My offering-

2 Cor. 8:12 alludes here: "If there be first (i.e. most importantly) a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" . Every man was to contribute to the building of the tabernacle (cp. the ecclesia) with a willing heart (Paul surely alludes here). They weren't told: 'Whoever is willing and able to contribute, please do so'. And yet the majority of us have at least something materially; and as we have been blessed, so let us give.

Willing hearted giving to God is important- the giving must never be from a sense of unavoidable obligation. In appealing for generosity to our poorer brethren, Paul uses this idea- speaking of how a willing heart in a cheerful giver is so loved by God (2 Cor. 8:19; 9:7).


Exo 25:3 This is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, brass,
Exo 25:4 blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, goats’ hair,
Exo 25:5 rams’ skins dyed red, sea cow hides, acacia wood,
Exo 25:6 oil for the light, spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense,
Exo 25:7 onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod and for the breastplate.
Exo 25:8 Let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them-
The commands concerning the tabernacle were given to Moses by the Angel- do phrases like "Let them make Me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them" (Ex. 25:8) have primary reference to the Angel speaking the words? In the same way, does Psalm 99:1 refer also to the physical presence of an Angel between the cherubim? "The LORD reigneth. . He sitteth between the cherubim (through His Angel); let the earth (land of Israel) be moved". Similarly "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel (the Angel- so Isaiah 63 describes the wilderness Angel), thou that leadest Joseph like a flock (the Angel lead them through the wilderness); thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth" (Ps. 80:1). And again in Ps. 20:1,2 "The God of Jacob (i. e. the Angel who Jacob recognized had been so much in his life) defend thee; send thee help from the sanctuary. . ", as if it was in the sanctuary (Holy Place) that the Angel was located. See on Ps. 78:60

Exo 25:9 According to all that I show you, the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all of its furniture, even so you shall make it-


“The works…The Son can do nothing of himself” (Jn. 5:19)
In Jn. 5:19,20 we read that the Son does (poieo) what He sees the Father doing, and the Father shows Him (deiknumi) all (panta) that He does. “All these works…I have not done them of mine own mind” (Num. 16:28).
This is referring to Ex. 25:9 LXX, where Moses makes (poieo) the Tabernacle according all (panta) that God shows him (deiknuo). The reference of Jn. 5:19,20 is therefore to the Lord working with His Father in the building up of us the tabernacle… and all things God planned for us were revealed to the Son even in His mortality. What great wealth of understanding was there within His mind, within those brain cells… and how tragic that the head and body that bore them was betrayed and ignored and spat upon and tortured by men…

Exo 25:10 They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Its length shall be two and a half cubits, its breadth a cubit and a half, and a cubit and a half its height.
Exo 25:11 You shall overlay it with pure gold. You shall overlay it inside and outside, and you shall make a gold moulding around it.
Exo 25:12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four feet. Two rings shall be on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it.
Exo 25:13 You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.
Exo 25:14 You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark.
Exo 25:15 The poles shall be in the rings of the ark. They shall not be taken from it.
Exo 25:16 You shall put the testimony which I shall give you into the ark.
Exo 25:17 You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two and a half cubits shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth.
Exo 25:18 You shall make two cherubim of hammered gold. You shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.
Exo 25:19 Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other end. You shall make the cherubim on its two ends of one piece with the mercy seat.
Exo 25:20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces toward one another. The faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.
Exo 25:21 You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I will give you-

The blood of atonement was sprinkled each year upon the top of the ark, the place known as “the mercy seat” or ‘atonement cover’. This blood represented the blood of Christ. The Angel cherubim shadowed the blood on the cover, representing how the Angels watched over Christ in His sacrifice and especially upon the cross. Hence His temptation to call Angels to deliver Him from it (Mt. 26:53). Peter alludes to this in saying that the Angels intently look down upon the things of the blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:12). Pagan religions typically had a throne in their temples, on which their God sat. The throne of the true God was empty- there was a “mercy seat”, but no god or idol sat upon it. Faith is about believing in the God who cannot be seen (Heb. 11:1,2), and whose saving mercy to us is confirmed in the blood of His Son.


Exo 25:22 There I will meet with you, and I will tell you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the testimony, all that I command you for the children of Israel-
See on 2 Sam. 23:1-3. “In him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9) would have been easily perceived as an allusion to the way that Yahweh Himself as it were dwelt between the cherubim on the mercy seat (2 Kings 19:15; Ps. 80:1). And yet the Lord Jesus in His death was the “[place of] propitiation” (Heb. 2:17), the blood-sprinkled  mercy seat. In the cross, God met with man and communed with us, commanding us the life we ought to lead through all the unspoken, unarticulated imperatives which there are within the blood of His Son. There in the person of Jesus nailed to the tree do we find the focus of God’s glory and self-revelation, and to this place we may come to seek redemption.

God meets with us over the blood of Christ, and from there His voice is heard. Hence Heb. 12:18-29 likens the blood of Christ to a huge voice; we cannot imagine Him there on the cross and be passive, we hear, as it were, God’s voice for us. This is why we must regularly remember Christ on the cross, replaying the scene continually before our eyes. For there we hear God’s voice and we have our meeting with Him. The breaking of bread service is a practical help to this end.

Exo 25:23 You shall make a table of acacia wood. Two cubits shall be its length, and a cubit its breadth, and one and a half cubits its height-
The Ugaritic poems speak of the furniture in Baal's heavenly temple, and it's very similar to that in the Most Holy Place. But the poems especially focus upon Baal's bed and chests of drawers for his clothing. These are noticeably absent in Yahweh's tabernacle furniture. The pagan god tabernacles all feature some kind of throne, upon which the god visibly sits. The cherubim of the Israelite tabernacle are similar to the Mesopotamian karibu, cherubim, upon which their gods sat. Phoenician and Egyptian art uncovered by archaeologists shows they believed in cherubim very similar in form to those described in Ezekiel's visions of Yahweh's cherubim. The throne of Yahweh was the ark, covered by the cherubim. There, above the blood spattered lid of the ark (or "mercy seat"), supported by the cherubim, the pagan mind expected to see Israel's God enthroned. The similarities to the pagan shrines were intentional- to set up this expectation. But there was nothing there. It was, to their eyes, an empty throne- just as God appears to be absent to so many people today. There was no visible image resting upon the wings of the cherubim, nothing on the throne / lid of the ark but the blood of atonement (which pointed forward to that of God's Son).

The table of show bread was to be made of acacia wood (Ex. 25:23), but David planned to make it of pure gold, and even worked out the weight of gold required for it (1 Chron. 28:16). And Solomon indeed made it of gold (1 Kings 7:48), leading to it being known as "the pure table" (2 Chron. 13:11). Religion had overtaken spirituality, form had eclipsed content. Likewise the "tables of silver" David ordered to be made (1 Chron. 28:16) do not feature in the tabernacle. He was missing the point- that God wanted His holiest symbols made of common, weak things like acacia wood. For His strength and glory is made perfect in weakness. David claims these plans were from God (1 Chron. 28:19), although as discussed on 1 Chron. 28:12, they were in fact from his own mind. The way these things were taken into captivity, with no record of this golden table ever being returned, surely reflects God's judgment upon this kind of religious show. He prefers a humble house church in an inner city room, rather than a gold plated cathedral. The way some exclusive churches speak of 'maintaining a pure table' suggests they have made the same essential mistake as David did.  


Exo 25:24 You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a gold moulding around it.
Exo 25:25 You shall make a rim of a handbreadth around it. You shall make a golden moulding on its rim around it.
Exo 25:26 You shall make four rings of gold for it, and put the rings in the four corners that are on its four feet.
Exo 25:27 The rings shall be close to the rim, for places for the poles to carry the table.
Exo 25:28 You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be carried with them.
Exo 25:29 You shall make its dishes, its spoons, its ladles, and its bowls to pour out offerings with. You shall make them of pure gold-
Yahweh had a "table". The Mesopotamian gods likewise had a table (passuru) upon which food was placed as a meal for the god (as in Is. 65:11). But the beakers, cups and vessels on Yahweh's table remained empty (Ex. 25:29); the wine was poured out onto the sacrifices and vaporized; the priests ate the shewbread. There was no pretence that Yahweh was a hungry god who needed to be fed by His worshippers. To the pagan mind, this would've meant that if He didn't eat, He wasn't actually around nor powerful. Again, the difference and similarities were intentional, in order to point up the need for faith in the power and existence of Yahweh.

Exo 25:30 You shall set bread of the presence on the table before me always.

Exo 25:31 You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. Of hammered work shall the lampstand be made, even its base, its shaft, its cups, its buds, and its flowers, shall be of one piece with it-
"The candlestick" or menorah is only ever spoken of in the law of Moses in the singular, but in 1 Chron. 28:15 David decided there were to be multiple such candelsticks. By doing so, he ignored the symbolism of the one candlestick, such was his obsession with mere religion. See on :23.

Exo 25:32 There shall be six branches going out of its sides: three branches of the lampstand out of its one side, and three branches of the lampstand out of its other side;
Exo 25:33 three cups made like almond blossoms in one branch, a bud and a flower; and three cups made like almond blossoms in the other branch, a bud and a flower, so for the six branches going out of the lampstand;-
33,34- see on Jer. 1:11,12

Exo 25:34 and in the lampstand four cups made like almond blossoms, its buds and its flowers;
Exo 25:35 and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, and a bud under two branches of one piece with it, for the six branches going out of the lampstand.
Exo 25:36 Their buds and their branches shall be of one piece with it, all of it one beaten work of pure gold-

The candlestick represents the assembly of believers (Rev. 1:20). It was made of beaten work, representing how all those in the true church will be beaten into a shape through which they can be lights for God.

Exo 25:37 You shall make its lamps seven, and they shall light its lamps to give light to the space in front of it.
Exo 25:38 Its snuffers and its snuff dishes shall be of pure gold-

Gold wasn’t the strongest or most practical material for these instruments. But it represents faith (1 Pet. 1:7). We aren’t the best instruments for God to use in His house, but He prefers to use the soft and those who aren’t humanly qualified for His work- because He works by faith in us, and by our faith in Him rather than our human strength.

Exo 25:39 It shall be made of a talent of pure gold, with all these accessories.
Exo 25:40 See that you make them after their pattern, which has been shown to you on the mountain.