Exodus 25:1-22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

August 31, 2008


Moses has begun a forty day retreat where he is going to receive many wonderful things from God on Mount Sinai.

:1-9 The Tabernacle Offering

:1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering.

an offering[email protected] – contribution, offering

This is going to be a special, specific offering. This isn’t going to be a law about regular offerings to God, but directions for a specific offering.

God is going to have Moses build something, and Moses is going to need materials to build it.

What is Moses going to build? He’s going to build the Tabernacle – a place for the Israelites to worship Yahweh. It’s going to be portable so they can take it around with them on their journey to the Promised Land.

It’s “worship-in-a-box”.

willinglynadab – to incite, impel, make willing

The word sounds like twisting someone’s arm. Except here God clarifies what is supposed to be twisting your arm. It’s your heart.

heartleb – inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding


Giving from the heart

We don’t always do too good when it comes to giving.
A Gift of Song
A guy went to buy a birthday gift for his wife. Some friends had been invited over that night to celebrate her fortieth, and he wanted to get something special. At the store he spotted some cute little music boxes. A blue one was playing “Happy Birthday.” Thinking they were all the same, he chose a red one, and selected some appropriate wrapping paper. The clerk cheerfully gift-wrapped it. Later, at dinner, he gave it to his wife and asked her to open it. When she lifted the lid, out came the tune, “The Old Gray Mare, She Ain’t What She Used to Be!”
Nobody likes to be forced to give. You feel like you’re being robbed at gunpoint when someone begins to put the pressure on you to give.
The Bible gives us a guideline about giving:
(2 Cor 9:7 NKJV) So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

God “loves” a cheerful giver.

Have you ever had a person give you a present, but you know that they weren’t very happy about giving it to you? Did you get the idea that they wanted you to not accept the gift because they didn’t want to give it?


Buy Your Own Present

After her 90th Birthday, Marie found that shopping for Christmas gifts had become too difficult, so she decided to send checks to everyone instead. On each card she wrote, “Buy your own present,” and she mailed them early. Marie enjoyed the usual flurry of family festivities. Only after Christmas did she get around to clearing off her cluttered desk. Under a stack of papers, she was horrified to find the gift checks which she had forgotten to enclose.

That’s the way it feels sometimes when some people give you gifts.  It’s like they really don’t want to give you gift, but they did anyway.  “Buy your own present…”

God loves it when we give willingly and cheerfully.

God knows all about giving for the right reasons.

No one can “out-give” God.

(John 3:16 NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

:3 "And this is the offering which you shall take from them: gold, silver, and bronze;

You’re going to see each of these materials being used in the Tabernacle.  There are a number of things made out of metals.

:4 "blue, purple, and scarlet thread, fine linen, and goats' hair;

The threads and goat’s hair will make cloth for clothing, the tent, and the cloth fence.

:5 "ram skins dyed red,

:5 badger skins,

badger skinstachash – a kind of leather, perhaps the badger or dugong, dolphin, or sheep or a now extinct animal

:5 and acacia wood;

:6 "oil for the light, and spices for the anointing oil and for the sweet incense;

oil – olive oil.

spices – like myrrh, cinnamon, cassia.  These are the things that will be used to make the special smelling anointing oil and the incense that will be burned inside the Tabernacle.

:7 "onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod and in the breastplate.

We’ll see how these stones were used when we get to the garments that the high priest would wear.

:8 "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.

sanctuarymiqdash – sacred place; from qadash – be holy, be separate.  God wants them to make a “holy place”, something that is separate, just for Him.

The word is used to describe both the Tabernacle as well as the Temple.

In Judaism, you will see the word “Mikdash” used to describe the Temple.

:9 "According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it.

the patterntabniyth – pattern, plan; it’s like God is giving Moses blueprints for something that Moses is going to have seen with his eyes. 

We mentioned last week that the Tabernacle itself is a sort of mockup, a model of something. 

When I worked at McDonnell-Douglas, I learned a little about “mockups” and “models”.  Here’s a Boeing X-45C – a mockup – it can’t fly, but it gives you a great picture of what the real thing will look like.

The writer of Hebrews says the tabernacle was a:

(Heb 8:5 NKJV)  …copy and shadow of the heavenly things…

As you study the Bible, you find that certain people were given glimpses of heaven.  It’s not surprising that when you compare the real thing with the mockup, you see the same kinds of things.  Here’s just a small sample of what you’ll find:

The Mockup

A Throne

(Rev 4:2 NKJV)  … a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne.

A lampstand

(Rev 4:5 NKJV)  …Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne


(Rev 4:6 NKJV)  … in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back.

:10-22 The Ark of the Covenant

Of all the parts of the Tabernacle, the most famous is the Ark of the Covenant. (Show “Raiders of the Lost Ark” 1:05:15-1:06:28 and 1:08:24 – 1:09:47

:10 "And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.

ark ‘arown – chest, ark;

I like to think of an “ark” as simply a container, a box.  Noah’s ark was a big, big box.  Moses’ ark was a bit smaller.

acacia wood – the structure of the box is made of wood.

cubit – the length of a cubit is the length on your forearm between your elbow and the tip of your finger.  It’s okay to roughly think of it as 18 inches, or 1 ½ feet.

That makes the ark 3 feet 9 inches long, 2 feet 3 inches wide, 2 feet 3 inches wide, like a long file box.

:11 "And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around.

None of the wood is exposed.  All that you would see, inside and out, is gold.

:12 "You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side.

:13 "And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.

:14 "You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.

:15 "The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.

The poles were the method by which that the ark would be moved.  They were also made of wood covered in gold.  They were supposed to stay attached to the Ark.

There is a strange story in the life of King David that took place when he was trying to have the Ark moved to the city of Jerusalem (2Sam. 6).  It had been a long time since the Ark had been moved, and the last time it was moved, the Philistines had moved it with a cart drawn by cows.  So David moves the Ark on a cart.  While the cart is going up the hill, one of the priests reached out to steady the cart, and was struck down by God.

Later David does his homework and finds out that the Ark was supposed to be carried with the poles, not with a cart.
Perhaps God cares about things like this – how His things are handled, how we handle His throne, how we treat His covenant.

:16 "And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.

the Testimony – God will write the Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets that Moses has.  This is “the Testimony”.  Of all the things that will be kept inside this box, this is the most important object.  The “testimony”, or “the covenant”, will give this Ark it’s name – the “Ark of the Covenant”.

One of the main functions of the “Ark” was to be a place where God’s “testimony” was kept.

: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 width.

mercy seatkapporeth – mercy-seat, place of atonement; from kaphar – to cover, purge, make an atonement, cover over with pitch

It’s interesting to note that Noah’s ark was “covered” (kaphar) with pitch to make it waterproof.  Moses’ ark had a “covering” of gold.

It seems to have a double meaning.

The “mercy seat” was literally a “lid”, a covering for the box, the Ark.
It was also a place of “covering”, where sins would be “covered” with blood, where atonement was made.

:18 "And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.

cherubim[email protected] – cherub, cherubim (pl); an angelic being

You will see these guys all through the Bible.  They are the ones guarding the Garden of Eden.  They are on the Ark.  They are woven into the fabric of the Tabernacle as well as the walls of the Temple. Ezekiel saw them (Eze. 1, 10).  Satan was once a cherub (Eze. 28:14). 

Our society things of a “cherub” as a baby angel shooting an arrow.  Some see them as having the form of men.

John calls them the “living beings” (Rev. 4:6-8) and describes them as being “full of eyes”, looking like a lion, a calf, a man, and an eagle, each having six wings, and they constantly worship God.

(Rev 4:6-8 NKJV)  Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. {7} The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. {8} The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!"

:19 "Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat.

:20 "And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.

The cherubim would be molded in one piece with the lid, facing each other, wings spread out to touch each other.

: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 Ark would eventually contain more than the tablets.  It would also at one time hold a jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.

By Solomon’s time, the only things inside the Ark were the two stone tablets (1Ki. 8:9)

:22 "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.

meetya‘ad – assemble, meet, betroth; (Niphal) to meet by appointment

I will speakdabar – (Piel)  to speak; to promise

(Exo 25:22 KJV)  I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat…

4 Questions about the Ark

1. What is the Ark all about?

It is a model of God’s throne.

It is the place where God met with a man, with Moses.
God’s throne “rested” on His “covenant”, His agreement with man.
God would agree to humble Himself and meet with man because man had agreed to this covenant.

I find it fascinating that they were to carry God’s throne wherever they wandered in the wilderness.  It was to stay in the center of the nation – kind of like God staying in the center of our lives.

2. What happened to the “Ark”?

When the Israelites made it into the Promised Land, the Ark was in Gilgal for awhile, and then was moved to Shiloh until the time of Eli (1Sam. 3).

When Eli’s sons took the Ark into battle, they lost it to the Philistines, who decided to return it when they found that it brought more trouble than it was worth (1Sam. 5).  When it was returned, it ended up at Kirjath-jearim (1Sam. 7).

David moved the Ark from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem, and Solomon was the one who had it put into the Temple.

That’s the last we hear of the Ark in the Bible.

3. Where is it now?  Here are some theories:

When Solomon’s son Rehoboam was attacked by the Egyptians, some suggest that the Ark was taken.

Others suggest that when the Babylonians finally destroyed Jerusalem in 586BC, that the Ark was taken to Babylon.  Some suggest it was destroyed, others say it might have returned later.

Some suggest that Jeremiah did something with the Ark just before the Babylonians took Jerusalem.  Mr. Spielberg followed the idea that Jeremiah took it with him to Egypt.  Others suggest that Jeremiah hid it in a secret place, and there was a Rabbi who claimed to have found it in a cave on the Temple Mount before the Arabs poured concrete over it.

The Ethiopian Orthodox church claims that they have been guarding the Ark for a couple thousand years in a church in Axum, claiming that Solomon gave it to the Queen of Sheba.

Others suggest that it might have even been captured by the Romans when they conquered Jerusalem in 70AD.  They point to Hadrian’s Arch, an ancient Roman archway that has pictures of Rome’s conquest of Jerusalem, including the Menorah being taken to Rome.  Some even have suggested that since it made it to Rome, that now the Catholic church has it in their basement in the Vatican.

But all these ideas are wrong.  We know what really happened to the Ark.  Didn’t you see the movie?  It’s in a giant government warehouse. (Show “Raiders” clip 1:50:25 – 1:50:55)

4. Is there an “ark” of the “New Covenant”?

See if you can spot the “ark”:

(Jer 31:33-34 NKJV)  "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. {34} "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Could it be us?  I wonder if there isn’t a sense in which we are the new “Ark of the Covenant”.  If the Law is now written on our hearts instead of on tablets of stone, doesn’t that make us the storage place of the covenant, the “ark” of the New Covenant?
Just wondering.


God’s throne is a place of mercy

We get the term “mercy seat” from the Greek translation (LXX) and the New Testament, where the word used (hilasterion) is based on the word for “mercy” (hileos).
I think that for some of us, we think that if we get too close to God, we’re going to get whacked.
In reality, God’s throne is where we will find forgiveness.  We will find mercy.
Don’t get me wrong – there are people who are going to be judged.  But if you come with a humble heart, you will find mercy.
Look at the story that Jesus tells about two men who approached God in different ways:
(Luke 18:9-14 NKJV)  Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: {10} "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. {11} "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men; extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. {12} 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' {13} "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!' {14} "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Which of the two men are you like today?

Are you like the hypocrite who felt like he was better than other people?

Or are you like the “sinner” in need of forgiveness.

In her book Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit, author and speaker Beth Moore recalls a particularly insightful moment in her life:

I will never forget watching an evening talk show featuring the story of the parents and killer of a young college student. The killer was his best friend. The weapon was high alcohol content inside a speeding automobile. …

What made this particular feature prime-time viewing? The parents had forgiven the young driver… And if that was not enough, they had taken him in as their own. This young man sat at the table in the chair which was once occupied by their only son. He slept in the son's bed. He worked with the victim's father, teaching seminars on safety. He shared their fortune and supported their causes. He spoke about the one he had slain in ways only someone who knew him intimately could have. …

Why did these parents do such a thing? Because it gave them peace. The interviewer was amazed; I was amazed. I kept trying to put myself in the parents' position—but I could not. Then, as the tears streamed down my cheeks, I heard the Spirit of God whisper to my heart and say: "No wonder you cannot relate. You have put yourself in the wrong position. You, my child, are the driver." God was the parent who not only forgave, but also invited me to sit at His table in the space my Savior left for me. As a result, I have peace.

Beth Moore, Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit (LifeWay Press, 1998); submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky

Look at what the writer of Hebrews tells us about coming to God:
(Heb 4:16 NKJV)  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Don’t run from God.  He is the one who wants to adopt you into His family.  Jesus has left a place for you at God’s table.