In the New Testament, Paul wrote to the Colossian believers:
Colossians 2:16–17 (NKJV) So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths, 17 which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
In our chapter for tonight, God is giving Moses instructions for the creation of the implements of the Tabernacle.
We will look at God’s instructions for the building of the:
Ark of the CovenantThe table for the Show BreadThe golden Lampstand
We will notice that while God presents Moses with the design and directions, the people will have a part to play in the construction.
We will discover many types of Jesus as we study these things and God will speak to each one of us personally with encouragement and with challenges.
Let’s dig in.
The offering that was to be taken was not for second hand items but for silver, gold, oils and precious stones ...
... Remember that when Israel left Egypt they left with it’s riches, having asked their neighbors for their valuables which they were only too eager to hand over ...
... After all the Egyptians had been through.
It wasn’t robbery ... For 400 years the people had slaved for little of no pay and now God made the Egyptians pay with all they had what was owed.
Let us stop here to remind ourselves that we are to:
LL: Treat others well.
EXAMPLE: I can remember like it was yesterday being a kid and reading comic books ... I remember perusing the advertisements for new and magical offerings like x-ray specs. I also remember ads for t-shirts with slogans on them ... One that sticks out in my mind bore the slogan “Do unto others ... And then split.”
Well, that’s certainly not the attitude we should have ... In fact, Jesus taught:
Luke 6:31 (NKJV) And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
It’s known as the golden rule and all of our children are familiar with it because we’ve taught it to them.
It’s a great policy and one that people place on a pedestal yet, it’s quickly set aside when it suits us better to treat others differently.
When the quickest route to a desired outcome is to adopt some other attitude toward others.
We are ambassadors of Christ, and we are called Holy and Set aside for the use of God ... Just like the implements that we are going to study tonight.
As such, we should differentiate ourselves from the rest of the world by the way that we treat others.
As Christians, we must treat well those who are performing a service for us ... Whether that is someone who we employ or someone who serves under our leadership in a ministry.
Proverbs 22:16 (NKJV) He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.
James 5:4 (NKJV) Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth.
The Lord will by no means bless those who oppress the poor to increase their own gain ...
If we pay someone a wage that is below what they should be paid for work they have done, God knows and those who do that will someday come to poverty themselves.
What about for pastors ... They live off of gifts, right?
Romans 4:4 (NKJV) Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
I think there are a lot of church goers in the world who never connect the dots that when they don’t tithe, their pastor doesn’t get paid.
And if they do understand that, but are willing to skip tithing, God knows it and God certainly isn’t going to bless that.
Also, as Christians, we must treat well those who employ us, knowing that our faithful work is a testimony to them of our Lord.
Colossians 3:23 (NKJV) And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
Christians should not be double minded toward their employers, but when we are on their clock, accruing salary or wages, we should be diligent to do what they are paying us to do.
In Colossians 3, Paul was writing to those who were bondservants ... Telling them that they are to serve their masters as if they were serving the Lord ...
... To preserve their testimony of the Lord before men ...
... And when they did that, God promised that He would reward them.
So, God told Moses to call the children of Israel to bring their best as an offering for the building of the Tabernacle ...
... Not a command, as God told Moses to only receive from those who give willingly from the heart.
Could not God have used the contributions of those who gave without wanting to?
Of course, but God was seeking to bless the people ... Giving them an opportunity to accrue blessings from Him by giving out of the joy of their hearts.
In Exodus 36 when all that the people of Israel gave to the building of the Tabernacle, it is recorded that the people gave so much that Moses had to tell the people:
Exodus 36:6 (NLT) So Moses gave the command, and this message was sent throughout the camp: “Men and women, don’t prepare any more gifts for the sanctuary. We have enough!” So the people stopped bringing their sacred offerings.
The contributions of the people were more than enough to complete the whole project.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard a pastor of any church say that to their congregation.
The outside of the Tabernacle would not have been impressive compared to the majority of church buildings, but in today’s dollars the inside would have cost millions ...
... and it was all provided by God’s people ... But notice the process ...
Again, when they left Egypt, God provided them with all the riches of Egypt and it would seem that the people understood their role as stewards, not as hoarders.
I wish Christians today understood that.
From God’s perspective, the majority of Christians could appear and that television show, Hoarders.
Surveys have demonstrated that less than 5% of Christians actually tithe.
So few Christians actually tithe ... It’s been said that if everyone in the church actually gave, hunger in the world would be wiped out and the gospel would be known throughout the world.
God multiplies our charity back on ourselves and the blessing we give becomes our own blessing.
When our righteous acts are motivated by fame or popularity, then it interrupts God’s economy in our lives and the blessing becomes a curse.
If you have not been a good steward of God’s provision, then when you are given the opportunity for acts of righteousness, you will find yourself hindered.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” NKJV
God looks to how you give to decide how He gives to you.
How do you give?
Is it grudgingly or cheerfully?
Is it the cable or cell phone bill first and then a tithe of what’s left over?
Give to God what’s right, not what is left.
It’s quite a shocking picture that Jesus sat in the synagogue and watched people giving:
If God did not care about what we gave, Jesus would not have been watching people give and He certainly wouldn’t have made comment about it.
It’s not the amount, but it’s an indication of the heart.
I’m not going to beat people up about money.
This is not that kind of church.
I’m not about big church, but I am about big Christians.
And Big Christians all have something in common:
LL: Big Christians give their best to God.
Of course, that’s not limited to financial giving, but also includes serving God physically and in your speech.
But one thing I’ve learned is that a Christian who has a heart for the Lord will do the things that God has said to do, which includes tithing.
As assisting pastor of a very large church, I oversaw many ministries and I was responsible for training up leadership in those ministries.
One of the qualification for a leader was not the amount they tithed, although the very definition of a tithe is a tenth and anything below that is simply an offering ...
... One of the qualifications was that they gave consistently.
You see, if someone’s heart is not with a fellowship they are not going to give financially to that ministry.
And so, consistent giving is an indication of whether someone has a heart for ministry and is obedient to God.
If they are not obedient to God in something as basic as tithing, then they are probably not obedient to God in other areas of their life, something I don’t want in a leader ...
... Because leaders who are not submitted will hurt the people they are leading.
Okay, well that’s leadership and not everyone desires or pictures themselves as being in leadership.
Well, keep in mind that tithing is a very basic ordinance of God.
It’s something you should do simply because God has told you to.
EXAMPLE: My Poor son Joshie ... Right now, he doesn’t care too much but eventually he’s going to recognize that all his clothes were handed down to him from his older brother.
The attitude of many Christians toward tithing is like hand-me-downs ...
... I’m done with this or I don’t need this anymore, or maybe even this thing doesn’t work anymore ... I think I’ll donate it.
The Israelites could have said to themselves, “Certainly, their going to need some lumber and I’ve got this old pile of lumber sitting around. Surely that’s more useful than gold, silver and bronze.”
Don’t give what is left.
Give what is right.
God told the children of Israel to give of their best and that’s what they did and they gave in abundance.
Through their giving they were blessed with the presence of God dwelling among them.
The apostle Paul instructed that we are to give cheerfully as we have purposed in our heart ...
... Again, tithing is a good indication of who has the throne of our heart.
Is it money sitting on that throne or is it the Lord.
Before we continue on, let me add that the children of Israel were giving for the construction of a tabernacle.
Tabernacle is the English translation of a Latin word meaning “hut” or “tent.”
The Hebrew word is Mishkan which means “residence” or “dwelling place.”
John, in the opening verses of his gospel said that Jesus, the Word, became flesh and dwelt among us.
There are some interesting similarities between the Tabernacle and Jesus:
The Tabernacle had a temporary appointment, serving a specific purpose for a specific time until the Temple would be constructed in Jerusalem.Jesus dwelt among men temporarily until His mission was finished and He ascended to Heaven.The Tabernacle was nothing fancy on the outside ... It was of humble appearance, yet inside it was anything but common.Jesus was common in His outward appearance yet there was an incredible beauty within Him.Just as Israel was in the wilderness when the Tabernacle was among them, so also Jesus came to Israel when they were in the midst of a spiritual wilderness.The tabernacle was God’s dwelling place and God’s meeting place.Jesus not only dwelt among us, but He is the only way for us to have fellowship with the Father.
We will discover even more about our Lord Jesus as we study the Tabernacle, so let’s continue.
God does something kind of odd here ... Instead of giving Moses instructions on how to build the Tabernacle first, God gives Moses the instructions on how to build the furniture first.
It’s as if God is saying, it’s not about the outside but what goes on inside that counts ... And it’s also not about working our way into His presence.
Instead, God turns the Tabernacle inside out because there is no work that brings us into a relationship with God.
It’s only by grace.
The ark was essentially a box measuring 2 cubits x 1.5 cubits x 1.5 cubits.
A cubit was the length from the tip of the finger to the elbow ... Which means that we cannot be absolute about the measurements of the ark as cubits differ from person to person ...
... my cubit is not your cubit.
The measurements of the ark were probably something close to 4’x2’x2’
The ark was to be made of Acacia wood ... A type of wood that is resistant to decay.
In this way, it is representative of the incorruptible body of Christ in His humanity.
Acacia trees grow in dry, desert regions.
Isaiah said that Jesus would be a “root out of dry ground.”
The wood of the ark was a picture of Jesus, but in order to properly picture the Lordship of Jesus, pure gold would cover the ark inside and outside.
The ark bore a crown of gold along the top ... Just as Jesus would bear a crown of thorns, but will also be crowned with a crown of gold.
On each side of the ark were two rings through which were placed poles to allow transportation of the ark without touching it.
The contents of the ark were the covenant or the two tablets of the law.
Later added were Aaron’s rod and a jar of manna.
The commandments were to be kept in the ark.
LL: Internalize God’s Word.
Desire God’s Word.
Seek it out ... Chase it down.
Wake up hungry for scripture and go to bed full.
We spoke Sunday about how we expect our kids to memorize Bible verses but for some reason many of us stop when we are adults.
But there will come a day when the scriptures that we’ve memorized will be very precious to us.
Whether that’s a time when bad choices have sent us to rock bottom or we find ourselves in the midst of heavy testing and we need encouragement.
Or maybe a day when Christianity is outlawed or the Bible is banned?
My friend, don’t be taken by surprise.
Today, we see symptoms of what’s coming.
Christian principles being equated with hate speech, removal of Bibles from school, the re-writing of US history to remove Christianity, ... It’s just the beginning of what’s to come.
I’m not here this morning to scare or get everyone up in arms, but I am saying that as the Bible diminishes in our culture, we must make sure it increases in our lives.
QUOTE: Billy Graham once explained: Like Joseph storing up grain during the years of plenty to be used during the years of famine that lay ahead, may we store up the truths of God’s Word in our hearts as much as possible, so that we are prepared for whatever suffering we are called upon to endure.
If we are to follow Jesus, we must study, we must know our Bibles ... what Jesus said, what He did.
So what is the power of God’s Word ... what difference will it make in my life?
Proverbs 3:8 (NKJV) It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
The Bible is important.
Don’t give other things the lead role in your life.
Many Christians start their mornings with a bowl of cereal but neglect real nourishment ... the nourishment of the Lord.
Anything that distracts you from God’s Word ... that turns your eyes away from blessed communion with God through His Word by no means measures up ...
... it all will burn.
2 Peter 3:10 (NKJV) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.”
The riches we work so hard for ... the job we strive for, the home, the car ... none of it will go with you.
Psalm 119:89 (NKJV) Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.
The one thing you can take with you, is the eternal Word of God which you have tucked away in your heart.
We should love the Word of God and desire to abide in His commandments yet we have all failed in keeping the commandments.
But where we couldn’t, Jesus could and just as the commandments were kept in the ark, so Jesus also kept the commandments.
And because He lived a righteous life and paid the penalty for our sins, all those who receive Him are righteous before God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The mercy seat was the lid of the ark.
The seat was made of solid gold and the whole thing consisted of the seat and two angels ...
... One on each side, each facing the other, with their wings stretching out across the seat.
It was in this seat, between the two cherubim that God would manifest Himself in a glory cloud.
Cherubim are mentioned through the Bible, usually in association with the throne of God, so we have a picture of the throne of God.
There’s another interesting picture here.
On Resurrection Sunday morning, had you looked into that tomb you would have seen:
John 20:12 (NKJV) And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
Between the angels you would have seen blood where Jesus’ body had lain.
Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies, where the ark remained and he would sprinkle blood on the mercy seat ... both the blood of a bull and the blood of a goat.
Leviticus 16:14 (NKJV) He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
The bull was a sin offering for himself.
The goat was a sin offering for the people.
Do you see it?
We have a picture here in the tomb of the Mercy Seat with the two angels and the blood of Jesus in the middle.
In that instance the High Priest had to make a sin offering for himself, but not so in the case of Jesus ... He was without sin and the offering was to atone for us.
And yet we also have some very practical counsel here for us in that God says it is at the mercy seat that Moses would meet with Him.
Whenever you feel that there is an issue between you and another brother or sister, or someone has done something to offend you ...
... don’t set aside mercy to lay down the law ... Don’t remove the mercy seat in preference of the law.
Instead, be merciful to them and show them the mercy that you’ve been so richly shown by God.
The table of showbread was made of acacia wood that was covered in pure gold and had an ornamental moulding around the top.
The ornamental moulding was like a crown.
The table also had rings through which poles were placed to carry it around.
On top of the table would be placed twelve loaves of bread, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
The table was to be 2 cubits by 1 cubit by 1.5 cubits.
The number two is the number of communion and so we have in this table a picture of our communion with Christ.
The number one is the number of union and like the Lord our God is Echad or One ... United in the godhead of the Trinity ...
... So we Christians are united through the act of communion that we share in the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus instituted two ordinances into the church, water baptism and communion ... Neither of which lead to salvation but each of which are an identification with Jesus.
In this table of showbread, we have a picture of our communion with God and our unity with the Body of Christ.
Of course, the table being made of acacia wood and covered in gold is again a picture of Christ, our Provider and our Sustainer.
There were also bowls, pitchers, pans all made of pure gold.
As followers of Jesus, we’ve been set apart in the way that the implements of the Tabernacle were set apart for use in worshipping and serving God.
Of our being holy, the Apostle John wrote:
1 John 2:24 (NKJV) Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.
When we fulfill that role, we are happier than when we are sitting idle in our faith.
Some Christians think that being holy or set apart means being miserable – sack cloth and ashes, frowns and groaning ... gnashing of teeth and all that bit.
That’s absolutely not the case.
The more holy your life the happier and joyful you will be.
The Hebrew word for lampstand is Menorah.
Today we see two versions of it ... The seven branched version which is what we are concerned with here ...
... And the nine branched version which is brought out during the celebration of Hanukkah which celebrates the re-dedication of the Temple after the revolt against the seluecid empire.
The lamp stand was made of solid gold.
The lamp stand, being made of beaten gold speaks of our Lord Jesus.
Six branches of arms extended from the top of the lamp stand, with the top of the stem being the seventh lamp.
The number of man is six and the number of completion is seven.
Having the six branches coming out of the main stem evokes to us what Jesus said:
John 15:5 (NKJV) “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
At the top of each branch was a small lamp or bulb containing a wick for burning oil and those were made to look like almond blossom.
Well, the almond blossom is pure white, but the almond tree is also the first in Israel to blossom and the first to bear fruit.
This speaks of the resurrection of Christ ... As Paul wrote, He is the Firstfruit ... The first one risen from the dead.
The middle stem was also taller than the others, meaning that Jesus is exalted above all men.
Verse 17 says, “they shall arrange its lamps so that they give light in front of it.” meaning that the other lamps should cast their light toward the middle stem ...
... Just as our lives should direct other people to the face of Jesus.
With the lamp stand, there were also wick trimmers and trays for holding the pieces of wick that were trimmed off.
The trimming of the wicks is like the trimming that you and I experience through life ... God desires to trim away what isn’t profitable anymore so that we will burn brighter.
The weight of the lampstand would be one talent or about 132 lbs.
God told Moses that the greatest requirement in making the implements of the tabernacle was to follow the instructions God gave on the mountain.
In the book of Hebrews, we are told that the Tabernacle is a shadow or picture of that which is presently in Heaven.
We don’t hug or kiss shadows ... We hug and kiss the people we love who cast shadows.
And so we may recognize Jesus in types associated with the Tabernacle but we don’t look for salvation in the Tabernacle.
Instead, we look to Jesus.
We don’t look to the pattern that God gave on Mt. Sinai, but we look to the pattern that was given us on Calvary ...
Where Jesus died for you and for me.