Tabernacle pieces. Other skilled workers joined them to make everything that God required. Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Day 44 (Feb. 13): Ark underway, a table, lampstand, altars, wash basin, courtyard, and priest attire

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 37-39:31
(1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 37:1-29): Can you remind us again what the significance is to all the gold?

A. It was the most valuable material available, and therefore required the greatest sacrifice on the part of God’s people.

Q. (37:17-24): What is the significance of the almond blossom design for the lampstand?  The one that comes to my mind is maybe God is the stem and we are the branches.  And from us, with God as our stronghold, the stem, we can spread his word to others, the buds?  Or, in this case it may be just Israelites?  Am I in the ballpark?

A. There are two significances to the almond tree (which will prominently appear again in Numbers and also in Jeremiah).  First, the almond tree was the first tree to bloom in the Middle East after the winter, making it a symbol of new life and renewal.

The other symbolism of the almond tree is a word play.  The word for almond (shâqêd)in Hebrew is very similar to the word for “lookout,” “watchful,” or “unresting.”  So, as the shape and form of an almond tree, with ever burning candles, the Menorah would have been a powerful symbol of God’s protectiveness and watching over His people day and night.  Cool, huh?

Q. (37:24): Where could the Israelites find 75 pounds of gold to make this.  Is gold easy to find in the desert?  If they used gold they already had, then where did they get it.  What I’m asking is where did the gold come from originally?  I always think of gold in Alaska and the West Coast.

A. They got it from the Egyptians when they left Egypt, in addition to whatever the people had themselves before they left.  There is no indication that the people were mining gold at this point.

Q. (37:25): Any significance to the horns?

A. The horn is an ancient symbol of power, and it still is to some extent.  It’s another symbol to watch for in subsequent stories.

Q. (38:1-7):  Why bronze?  Is it because it has a higher melting point needed for the burnt offerings?

A. Yes, Israel was in the midst of the Bronze Age during this time.  (We will see how other tribes enter the iron age as the story progresses.)  Bronze was the primary material used to make tools and other items during this time.  While not as tough as iron, bronze is tough stuff that can stand up to high heat.  Generally, items that went inside the tent were made of gold and silver — though silver is used both places— and items in the courtyard — the altar, washbasin, etc. — were made of bronze.

Q. (38:9-20) Is linen symbolic?

A. While not as expensive as the precious metals or stones, there would have been intense effort put into making the twisted linen, making it a valuable material.  It is just another example of the people (probably women in this case) making important sacrifices for God and the greater good of the tribes.

Q. (38:24-31): The inventory is to show how much the Israelites sacrificed their own belongings to make the Tabernacle as God instructed?

A. Yes.  And, also to show the investment that the people made for God.

Q. (39:30): The trust God has in Aaron after he pulled his shenanigan has me baffled.  Also, can you tell us the difference between Aaron’s and Moses’ duties?  Moses did not wear all of this fancy attire, right?

A. Aaron never seems to be punished for his role in the calf incident, kind of like other folks in our story so far that weren’t punished for their deceit — Jacob and Abraham — or other sins.  I don’t really know why.

Moses’ role in liberating the people is unique and won’t be carried on by someone else — though technically Joshua will become the leader — where as Aaron’s role as high priest will be an ongoing role for the people, hence the fancy duds.  The high priest will be THE person chosen to go into God’s presence on the Day of Atonement, (What is that, you ask?  The answer is coming up soon!) which will make that person the most important person in the entire nation, even more important than the leader or king.  I’d say he deserves something nice for that level of responsibility.

For further study: What was the fate of the Ark of the Covenant? https://www.crosswalk.com/faith/bible-study/things-you-may-not-know-about-the-ark-of-the-covenant.html

Shop: Share your faith by wearing God’s Word! https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Exodus 39:32-40:38

All things Tabernacle. Tabernacle of the Israelites while they were wondering in the desert.

Day 40 (Feb. 9): Tabernacle offerings, blueprints for Ark of the Covenant, table, lampstand, Tabernacle, altar, courtyard, light, priests’ apparel

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
Exodus 25-28
(1446 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Exodus 25:1-40): Do we learn anything from God’s instructions on how to construct the Ark?  Is it just that God knows what he wants to be comfortable?  Any significance to the cherubim?  Also, I notice that 27 inches is repeated many times.

A. God is asking His people to sacrifice in order to create a place of gathering that will serve His people for the next several decades.  The Tabernacle will dwell within the center of the community — putting God in the midst of His people — and will be a point of gathering.  The items requested would have made a beautiful gathering — which was very functional as well, it could be folded together and loaded up any time — that would have served the entire community.

I think we’re on the wrong track when we think of God desiring “comfort” as though He wanted a Lay-Z-boy to recline in.  This is not an incarnational presence, like Jesus.  This is the presence of God becoming the literal center of the tribes while they are in the wilderness.  We will see how the instructions for the ark and tabernacle will come into play as we move along, but watch for the importance of the poles and rings when it comes time to move.  There is a very special reason for the rings and poles on the ark.

The cherubs — a name for what we think is a classification of angel, but no one knows for sure — were seen in the OT as symbolic attendants to the throne of God, what we call the mercy seat, the cover to the ark.  And in a throne room, the attendees of a king would have been at his left and right.

Don’t pay much attention to the dimensions, if for no other reason than the NLT uses modern units to help us more clearly understand the dimensions of the items being built.  If you look at the NIV or King James, they give the units in “cubits” rather than feet and inches.  For reference, a cubit equals 1.5 feet, or 1 foot, six inches.  Obviously, there were no “inches” and “feet” as measures in ancient times, and generally there were very few standards of measure.

Q. (28:6): Is there any significance to the thread colors chosen — blue, purple and scarlet?

A. Yes.  These colors were symbolic of royalty and were incredibly expensive.  Like the gold and jewels for the task, God is seeking the best that His people have to offer.  He is requesting them to sacrifice in this instance, as one would do for a human monarch.

Q. We see this lavishness that God commands for himself.  No question, he deserves it all.  I just wondered what kind of philosophy the Bible says churches should have when building their places of worship.  Some churches are lavish, others are basically four walls and a roof.  I have had the mindset that if churches spend a lot on their buildings, they are not using their money wisely.  They could be using it for missions.  But, then, are they showing disrespect for God by not having the best possible place of worship?

A. You’ve obviously asked a complicated question, as you can tell by the various ways that churches and individuals have answered it.  Some churches are much more comfortable with “four walls and a roof” (I’m thinking of the of those pre-fab metal roofed churches that you see in rural areas), while others (I’m thinking of an absolutely amazing Catholic Basilica I visited in St. Louis) desire to create real beauty and glorify God through craftsmanship.  I think that both decisions honor God in different ways: we can say, “Lord be glorified by this place” or “Lord be glorified by what we will do within this place” and be perfectly right in both cases.  In this instance, God required the people to sacrifice their best in order to create something that would benefit everyone in the community.  Overall, I would say there is no one “right” way to build a building for God — unless He gives you one as He did here — and we must be discerning to what God desires of us.

Q. I shouldn’t say this, but this reading is a yawner.  Not much action.  But, I do glean several things from it.  1) There are things made for Aaron’s attire that will remind him who he is, a representative to all the people of Israel.  2) God asks for a beautiful place to dwell among the people.  I would love to see it!!!  3) Anything else I’m missing?

A. Seems like you’ve got the general idea.  The instructions given here are just the groundwork: we will still see these things built later in Exodus, and put into action in the next few stories.  So hang in there.

If you (or anyone else) wants to see what this would have looked like, I find that there are various groups on the internet who have built life-size replicas.  Like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stiftshuette_Modell_Timnapark.jpg

For further study: What is the significance of the Ark of the Covenant? https://www.compellingtruth.org/What-Ark-of-the-Covenant.html

Tomorrow’s Reading: Exodus 25-28