|BIBLE STUDY SERIES #218, 219 and 220|
21 January, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We are following a course of Bible Studies which began several years ago with God's Call to Abram, from whom The Almighty would create a whole people, a constellation of nations, that would serve as the basis for the construction of the Kingdom of God upon the earth, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone.
We had started this present series in Genesis 12, and now, after following the development of this expanding family and tribal cluster into Egypt for a period of national education, and through The Exodus, out into the freedom of desert wandering in the area of Mount Sinai, we have watched in our minds as we read the further Scriptural account as they received God's offer of what amounted to a national marriage with Himself. Upon their acceptance of the proposal, they had received His Laws and provision for Sacrificial cleansing of their sins. They are to prepare a national portable focus of worship, the Tabernacle, and we have now watched as the actual preparation was made for this work, and the work begun.
On the last lesson, we read Exodus 36 to its conclusion, and now we have arrived at Exodus 37, which, in fact, is simply a continuation of the work begun in Exodus 36. Let us read a portion from Chapter 37, and comment thereon as we go.
1. And Bezaleel made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it:
2. And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about.
3. And he cast for it four rings of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it.
4. And he made staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.
5. And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark.
6. And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
7. And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;
8. One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof.
9. And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.
Remember that this ark was the focal point of the whole Tabernacle because it embodied the very essence of the whole prophetic theme which the Tabernacle represented. It was the picture in a physical object of the work of Jesus Christ at His First Advent because it represented the covering of The Law of God by a Gold Mercy Seat whereon blood was sprinkled representing Christ's blood given for His people's Salvation. It had a crown of gold about it, and in this we can see the Royal Dignity of Christ at His Second Advent. It was the focal point from which Yahweh (Jehovah), the Husband of the nation, ruled His people, Moses and Aaron being the chosen human representatives. Moses was the Prophet who conveyed God's will to the people while Aaron was the High Priest who represented the service of the people before their God. It was, as The New Bible Dictionary (item "Ark") explains, "the symbol of the divine presence guiding his people." The acacia wood of the ark when covered with gold was a symbol of the humanity of Christ Who kept the whole Law, while the Mercy Seat, sprinkled with blood which cost life, was the provision of God in protecting the repentant from the penalty consequent upon law-breaking. As The New Bible Dictionary notes, "Gold-overlaid wooden receptacles or portable shrines are known from the Ancient Near East in pre-Mosaic times. The ark is unique, however, as the repository of the covenant-tablets, i.e. documents bearing the 'covenant stipulations'." As Keil and Delitzsch explain, "...the holy chest (the ark), as being the most holy thing of all, is distinguished above all the rest, by being expressly mentioned as the work of Bezaleel, the chief architect of the whole."
10. And he made the table of shittim wood: two cubits was the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof:
11. And he overlaid it with pure gold, and made thereunto a crown of gold round about.
12. Also he made thereunto a border of an handbreadth round about; and made a crown of gold for the border thereof round about.
13. And he cast for it four rings of gold, and put the rings upon the four corners that were in the four feet thereof.
14. Over against the border were the rings, the places for the staves to bear the table.
15. And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold, to bear the table.
16. And he made the vessels which were upon the table, his dishes, and his spoons, and his bowls, and his covers to cover withal, of pure gold.
The table, remember, was to bear the loaves, the symbols of the twelve tribes, in service before The LORD. It would equate to the Communion Table in later centuries. The service was symbolic of a daily renewal. Christ, our Bread of Life, must be accepted every day, and we are enjoined to pray, in The Lord's Prayer, "give us this day, our daily bread."
17. And he made the candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work made he the candlestick; his shaft, and his branch, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, were of the same:
18. And six branches going out of the sides thereof; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side thereof, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side thereof:
19. Three bowls made after the fashion of almonds in one branch, a knop and a flower; and three bowls made like almonds in another branch, a knop and a flower: so throughout the six branches going out of the candlestick.
20. And in the candlestick were four bowls made like almonds, his knops, and his flowers:
21. And a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches going out of it.
22. Their knops and their branches were of the same: all of it was one beaten work of pure gold.
23. And he made his seven lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, of pure gold.
24. Of a talent of pure gold made he it, and all the vessels thereof.
Lamps are representative of the witness of God's people, and are fed by oil which must be replenished from time to time. Thus we, if we are to bear true witness to the light, constant recourse must be had to a supply of such oil.
25. And he made the incense altar of shittim wood: the length of it was a cubit, and the breadth of it a cubit; it was foursquare; and two cubits was the height of it; the horns thereof were of the same.
26. And he overlaid it with pure gold, both the top of it, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns of it: also he made unto it a crown of gold round about.
27. And he made two rings of gold for it under the crown thereof, by the two corners of it, upon the two sides thereof, to be places for the staves to bear it withal.
28. And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold.
29. And he made the holy anointing oil, and the pure incense of sweet spices, according to the work of the apothecary.
Incense has, for millennia, been a means of enhancing the sense of the presence of divinity and the particular mixture which The Almighty designated was of especial and unmatched fragrance. The incense altar was, like the ark and the table, surrounded by a royal crown. It is the place of our service to God Himself.
While the full significance of each portion of the whole work has received some attention in previous studies, the careful repetition of the detail which Scripture follows when reporting the actual construction of each item must be taken as an indicator that it is important to see that God's orders were fully carried out by the workers of the generation of The Exodus. Had this report not been included, it might have left an open question by generations millennia later when the actual construction had disappeared, whether it had ever been actually created at all.
May I leave with you the thought that every detail was precise in its plan and execution, so every detail must bear some exact relationship to the purposes of The Almighty Who designed the whole. The same God Who made such precise orders a matter of strict attention has planned all the points of each life of His people. We are working out His plan for our lives, and that plan requires that we not neglect the details of our Service before Him. Blessings flow from such attention to God's detailed instructions.
28 January, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We are following a course of Bible Studies which began several years ago with God's Call to Abram. From him would descend, eventually, by promise of The Almighty God a people to serve God Himself. It was, in fact, to form the initial stage of a great building programme which was to become The Kingdom of God upon the earth, a building into which Jesus Christ Himself would later be born as the chief corner stone.
On previous programmes in this series of studies, we saw that The Almighty had, from the very first instant of Creation, expressed love for that which was to be formed, and desired love to emerge within this Creation, corresponding to His own. He had foreseen that with love would come certain unavoidable requirements.
Love being the positive aspect of a choice, any expression of love would therefore involve choosing, which, in order to be rational and meaningful must, in turn, be performed in a context of circumstances which follow set rules of cause and effect, or, in other words, the operation of what mankind calls Natural Law. Love cannot exist without Law.
In love, The Almighty must Himself provide sound advice to mankind in a code of Laws regarding acceptable (correct) choices. If choices were wrong, or short-sighted, such choices would result in man's mistakes which we term "sin" with all the destructive results thereof, and that would require God's Own intervention in order to rectify the situation. Thus God's Law is the most explicit expression of His Loving concern that mankind understand what is required for perfection which avoids the Sin which results in pain and death.
Hence, from the foundation of the world, a solution to the problem of rebellion against God's instructions and prohibitions would be required because mankind was bound to sin.
Perfect justice must impose a penalty for Sin, which is the breaking of God's Laws, in order to check the repetitious indefinite multiplier effect of such a condition. God's Own Perfect Love must however, operate to shield repentant sinners from eternal disaster. Thus a method of salvation to meet the situation was mandatory and, in love, inevitable. That method involved God's somehow taking the punishment which man could not endure. Jesus Christ, at His First Advent, provided the means. He was the aspect of The Almighty willing to enter time and space within the Creation as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) and The Cross was to be the point at which Christ's interposition was to take place. All of the considerations thus far mentioned are summed up in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Christ, Himself set before us the proper understanding of this as a general principle when He stated in John 15:13, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
That event, however could not happen effectively in isolation. It required that a nation be prepared with some understanding of what was taking place, and hence capable of commemorating, and of explaining and communicating the events concerned to all the rest of humanity. National Israel must be formed of a chosen line of mankind, descendants of a seed-line which, as history reveals, came about through the service of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
It is of this process that the Scriptures teach us. The forming of the tribal assembly of Israel at Mount Sinai into a national "wife" for The Almighty, in order to be His handmaid in bringing about this sequenced process of Salvation was a part of the whole necessary plan. The construction of a magnificent prophetic teaching aid, and focus of contact with Himself, which at first was to be the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, must therefore proceed. Every aspect of that Tabernacle was designed to instruct the nation regarding the whole overall design of God's programme of Salvation, and the part which Jesus Christ would later occupy at the heart of it.
Divesting Himself of His glory, Christ arrived at the time before appointed, appearing as "the Word made flesh" (for only thus would He be capable of passing through the necessary death as kinsman to His people, taking their place at an execution to pay the just penalty for the sins of mankind). As Israel was later to sin, nationally and corporately, to the point of divorce and expulsion from the homeland, Christ would, at the same time, also fulfil The Law given in Deuteronomy 24:1-4 for only by His own death could He thus become a Redeemer to open the legal door to re-marriage to the national Israel wife whom he would have to divorce along the way for their corporate sins as a national entity, as shown by the Prophets in Jeremiah 3:1 and 8, Isaiah 50:1 and the first two chapters of Hosea, and further explained to dispersed Israelites by Paul in Romans 7:1-4.
On the last programme, we had come to Exodus 37:29, reading of the actual preparation of the building and the furniture of The Tabernacle, that prophetic design which was to become, as it were, not only the focal point of the national worship of ancient Israel in her desert wanderings in the land of Sinai, but also a great teaching aid to assist God's people to understand what He was undertaking on their behalf in the ages to follow.
Let us read today's Scripture passage, starting at Exodus 38:1.
1. And he made the altar of burnt offering of shittim wood: five cubits was the length thereof, and five cubits the breadth thereof; it was foursquare; and three cubits the height thereof.
2. And he made the horns thereof on the four corners of it; the horns thereof were of the same: and he overlaid it with brass.
3. And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the shovels, and the basons, and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the vessels thereof made he of brass.
4. And he made for the altar a brasen grate of network under the compass thereof beneath unto the midst of it.
5. And he cast four rings for the four ends of the grate of brass, to be places for the staves.
6. And he made the staves of shittim wood, and overlaid them with brass.
7. And he put the staves into the rings on the sides of the altar, to bear it withal; he made the altar hollow with boards.
Remember that this Altar of brass (or copper or bronze) was the place of death of the animal sacrifices, and pointed forward to the Sacrificial Death of Jesus Christ. The associated cleansing we find in the next item.
8. And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
9. And he made the court: on the south side southward the hangings of the court were of fine twined linen, an hundred cubits:
10. Their pillars were twenty, and their brasen sockets twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets were of silver.
11. And for the north side the hangings were an hundred cubits, their pillars were twenty, and their sockets of brass twenty; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
12. And for the west side were hangings of fifty cubits, their pillars ten, and their sockets ten; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
13. And for the east side eastward fifty cubits.
14. The hangings of the one side of the gate were fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.
15. And for the other side of the court gate, on this hand and that hand, were hangings of fifteen cubits; their pillars three, and their sockets three.
16. All the hangings of the court round about were of fine twined linen.
17. And the sockets for the pillars were of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver; and the overlaying of their chapiters of silver; and all the pillars of the court were filleted with silver.
18. And the hanging for the gate of the court was needlework, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: and twenty cubits was the length, and the height in the breadth was five cubits, answerable to the hangings of the court.
19. And their pillars were four, and their sockets of brass four; their hooks of silver, and the overlaying of their chapiters and their fillets of silver.
20. And all the pins of the tabernacle, and of the court round about, were of brass.
We have dealt with each part mentioned in the list of items constructed in previous studies. Let me conclude for today with the thought that all of what is described herein was, and is, a symbolic reminder of the essentials for our Salvation. We shall continue with the examination of the construction of the Tabernacle on the next study.
4 February, 1996
By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.
We are following a course of Bible Studies which began several years ago with the Call of Abram. We had followed the course of events as the Genesis account described the interaction of The Almighty with Abraham, then with his son, Isaac, and later, Jacob and his children, as the seed-line unfolded. We followed them, in our mind's eye, down into Egypt where the children of Israel acquired schooling in many necessary civic responsibilities and arts, but where also, they later endured the bondage imposed by a Pharaoh who "knew not Joseph." We watched as Yahweh, (Jehovah), their God stated, in Exodus 19:4 after their Exodus from that land, "Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself" in releasing them out of their predicament and into a new experience and opportunity to serve their God, Himself, at Mount Sinai, where they are yet presently encamped.
In order to find some part, at least, of the reason for all this development of a people of service, we began, on our last programme, to explain that the processes involved in the act of Creation would necessitate provision of a means of Salvation to accommodate the unavoidable problem of Sin in an immature humanity. Mankind had to learn by experience that short-sighted or selfish choices formed fatal mistakes which missed the mark of perfection that, alone, might avoid misery and death in a Universe governed by unyielding Natural Laws. Freedom of choice, which the very existence of Love demanded, had to endure what I might term a process of "fine tuning." However once the Sin had produced its disastrous results of pain and death, a means of rectifying the situation would be a necessity, and mankind, having fallen, could not provide of himself, that means of escape.
The love of God, expressed through the Cross of Christ, had to take the human condition in hand, so to speak, and form a door of escape. Christ thus described Himself in John 10:7, saying "Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep", and in verse 9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
We have on recent programmes, been reading that portion of Exodus wherein The Tabernacle, a portable Israelite focus of worship in the Wilderness of Sinai is being constructed in strict accord with a pattern given by The Almighty to Moses. The reason that this is important is that the Tabernacle was not only a tent of worship. It was to serve for generations to come as a sort of national teaching aid, preparing the people of Israel to understand what The Almighty was actually doing in order to provide that "door of escape." Every portion of the whole construction was filled brim-full with symbolism, the meaning of which would be made more apparent as the centuries passed down to the New Testament Age and beyond. Today, we pick up our Scripture portion at Exodus 38:21, continuing the description of the Tabernacle and its furnishings as all is being prepared and assembled. While it will not be possible to read all of the passage in today's study, we shall cover some of it now, and leave the rest of the passages for the succeeding programmes.
The former passages which concerned the Tabernacle were of the detailed instructions to Moses, describing each component which was to be constructed in detail, and at that reading, we stopped to give attention to the symbolic theological import attached to each piece. This present reading, however, which describes how each part was actually made following those instructions to the letter, also forms a convenient review of what we have already studied. As teachers will all understand, it never hurts to review the materials covered in previous lessons because it not only strengthens the matters covered in the memory, but also some details which may have been missed in the first reading can perhaps be picked up on a second hearing. So let us begin today's passage at Exodus 38:21.
21. This is the sum of the tabernacle, even of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, for the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest.
22. And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses.
23. And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman, and an embroiderer in blue, and in purple, and in scarlet, and fine linen.
24. All the gold that was occupied for the work in all the work of the holy place, even the gold of the offering, was twenty and nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.
25. And the silver of them that were numbered of the congregation was an hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:
26. A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.
27. And of the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary, and the sockets of the vail; an hundred sockets of the hundred talents, a talent for a socket.
28. And of the thousand seven hundred seventy and five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, and overlaid their chapiters, and filleted them.
29. And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and two thousand and four hundred shekels.
30. And therewith he made the sockets to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brasen altar, and the brasen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altar,
31. And the sockets of the court round about, and the sockets of the court gate, and all the pins of the tabernacle, and all the pins of the court round about.
At this point, I might interject a note of reference. All these articles and their design have, as I say, been individually described by Yahweh, (Jehovah) in former Scripture passages, and when we arrived at each, we undertook to explain the symbolism concerned. If any listeners have not heard the former programmes, and would like to have some understanding of what has been covered previously, I should explain that all of our radio programmes are printed in our free monthly magazine, and are available on tape, as will be explained at the end of today's programme.
Exodus 39, the chapter which follows, continues the description of the preparation of the Tabernacle and its furnishings. However, this chapter reviews the actual clothing to be worn by the priesthood which was to serve within the Tabernacle, and the great beauty of these articles can be imagined as we proceed to read on into that 39th Chapter.
1. And of the blue, and purple, and scarlet, they made cloths of service, to do service in the holy place, and made the holy garments for Aaron; as the LORD commanded Moses.
2. And he made the ephod of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
3. And they did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple, and in the scarlet, and in the fine linen, with cunning work.
4. They made shoulderpieces for it, to couple it together: by the two edges was it coupled together.
5. And the curious girdle of his ephod, that was upon it, was of the same, according to the work thereof; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen; as the LORD commanded Moses.
6. And they wrought onyx stones inclosed in ouches of gold, graven, as signets are graven, with the names of the children of Israel.
7. And he put them on the shoulders of the ephod, that they should be stones for a memorial to the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.
8. And he made the breastplate of cunning work, like the work of the ephod; of gold, blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen.
9. It was foursquare; they made the breastplate double: a span was the length thereof, and a span the breadth thereof, being doubled.
10. And they set in it four rows of stones: the first row was a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this was the first row.
11. And the second row, an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond.
12. And the third row, a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.
13. And the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper: they were inclosed in ouches of gold in their inclosings.
14. And the stones were according to the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet, every one with his name, according to the twelve tribes.
15. And they made upon the breastplate chains at the ends, of wreathen work of pure gold.
16. And they made two ouches of gold, and two gold rings; and put the two rings in the two ends of the breastplate.
17. And they put the two wreathen chains of gold in the two rings on the ends of the breastplate.
18. And the two ends of the two wreathen chains they fastened in the two ouches, and put them on the shoulderpieces of the ephod, before it.
19. And they made two rings of gold, and put them on the two ends of the breastplate, upon the border of it, which was on the side of the ephod inward.
20. And they made two other golden rings, and put them on the two sides of the ephod underneath, toward the forepart of it, over against the other coupling thereof, above the curious girdle of the ephod.
21. And they did bind the breastplate by his rings unto the rings of the ephod with a lace of blue, that it might be above the curious girdle of the ephod, and that the breastplate might not be loosed from the ephod; as the LORD commanded Moses.
Remember that the Tabernacle colours are also those of most of the nations which descend from Israel in the present time. Symbols of stone represent the Stone Kingdom of Daniel's words in Daniel 2:44-45, and again, it is the stone which formed the Tablets of The Ten Commandments which were originally cut out of the mountain without hands, (that is, without human hands, see Exodus 31:18) and that shows that it is the Kingdom of Our Lord which is structured by these same Commandments which is to replace the Babylonian system of our own time. We, of the British-Israel World Federation affirm that the present day majority of the descendants of ancient Israel are now to be found among the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred nations of the world, and thus it is for these peoples that this message holds a particular importance. May this consideration form the basis of a blessing to you this week.
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