The Frame of the Tabernacle
[P] Who plays with lego? Its worth having children just so you have the excuse! House that Hannah built. Well, we did it together. But we can’t claim the credit, we didn’t design it. The person who thought it all is the clever one – there is a plan – I pick out the pieces that it says are required and Hannah follows the plan – does exactly what the picture shows. There is a plan. [P] Made according to pattern. [Exodus 25:8-9 “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them. “According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.] [Acts 7:44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen.] [Hebrews 8:5 Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “See,” He says, “that you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.”] Who gets the glory? – God, who designed it in the first place. He had a plan, a blue-print which He revealed to Moses. So, how do you build a tabernacle? [P] Read [Exodus 26:15-29 “Then you shall make the boards for the tabernacle of acacia wood, standing upright. “Ten cubits (15 feet) shall be the length of each board and one and a half cubits (2 feet) the width of each board. “There shall be two tenons (projections, like two feet) for each board, fitted to one another; thus you shall do for all the boards of the tabernacle. “You shall make the boards for the tabernacle: twenty boards for the south side. “You shall make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards, two sockets under one board for its two tenons and two sockets under another board for its two tenons; and for the second side of the tabernacle, on the north side, twenty boards, and their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board. “For the rear of the tabernacle, to the west, you shall make six boards. “You shall make two boards for the corners of the tabernacle at the rear. “They shall be double beneath, and together they shall be complete to its top to the first ring; thus it shall be with both of them: they shall form the two corners. “There shall be eight boards with their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board and two sockets under another board. “Then you shall make bars of acacia wood, five for the boards of one side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle for the rear side to the west. “The middle bar in the centre of the boards shall pass through from end to end. “You shall overlay the boards with gold and make their rings of gold as holders for the bars; and you shall overlay the bars with gold. ] I’ve said that the tabernacle pictures Jesus, that it is the dwelling place of God. It is a picture on earth of the reality in heaven. But there is a most amazing thing – יְהוָה who inhabits the heavens, is enthroned above them, transcendent over all – do you know where He dwells? In us!! In human beings! What makes up His dwelling? – human beings. In the NT the tabernacle, in tent form, had been replaced with a permanent material temple, made of stones – and it describes believers as stones in that temple. [Ephesians 2:19-22 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.] [1 Peter 2:4-7 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.” This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “The stone which the builders rejected, This became the very corner stone,”] So the plan said build the tabernacle out of boards – let’s look at the materials used to make these boards:
Wood – The boards, were boards! – Made of wood. Pretty ordinary, common stuff. That’s us! Remember this list of symbols. [P] Wood pictures humanity [P] – ordinary, humble – nothing particularly special. It was Acacia wood (Shittim wood) [P], it grew in wilderness where the Israelites were living [P] – we grew in a barren dry land, in this world. We drew from the world’s barrenness that which met the needs of our life. Acacia wood is branched, knotty, difficult to work [P], [Bryan’s stool] – that’s us, we are difficult creatures, twisted. You won’t find a straight a straight acacia tree – and you won’t find a human who is upright. God didn’t choose the easiest material to work with! To make the boards the tree had to be firstly cut down [P] – last time I spoke about dying – those in Christ have died, our life has ended. Secondly it was cut up [P] – very necessary – the timber had to be straightened and smoothed. We are twisted and knotty, hard to work. Nothing straight about acacia wood, not like cedar with nice straight grain. We need to be worked on if we are ever to fit alongside our brothers. We need to be straightened out, made upright. Our roughness needs to be smoothed out if we a cohesive body, living alongside our brothers in complete unity. Notice that the boards were all the same height – none stands out, all equal. No prima Donnas, no individuals standing out. We are all the same, one in Christ. If anyone stands out above, rules it over another the structural integrity of the whole building is threatened. So that’s us, frail humans – plain wood …. but no wood was seen! – completely covered in gold. We are human, but man is not to be seen, nothing of our flesh – remember we have died; the tree has been cut down. No wood, humanity seen, but we are now clothed in righteousness Divine! Hallelujah! We are:
Covered in Gold – [P] the glory of God! [P] In utter contrast to the plainness of wood is the other two materials used in construction: gold and silver! Last time we were up with Mum and Dad we went up to Waihi – I remember going there over 30 years ago, there was a hill on the edge of town, now this is what you see [P]. A huge hole! It takes a lot of work to dig a hole like that, many truck loads, even with trucks of this size [P]. It can haul 100 tons and takes 25 minutes to do the trip out of the hole. Why go to that bother? Do you know what the truck is carrying? 100 tons of rock – but 10 ounces of gold and 100 of silver. The earlier underground mine went down 600 metres! Over ½ a K underground, 174 Km of tunnels! Why? Because gold is precious! It’s worth the effort. Wood may be humble but gold and silver are precious. We are mere humans but have been made יְהוָה’s precious possession [Deuteronomy 26:18 “יְהוָה has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments;]. Gold has always been treasured – it is the preserve of the wealthy, the noble, kings [P]. Gold pictures glory, and honour, the metal of palaces and kings, heaven – glorious, roads of gold. There was 2175 lbs of gold in the tabernacle about a tonne - 1,000,000 grams, 32,000 troy ounces worth @ $900/oz about $29 million – almost double for NZ$. Precious! Made of humble acacia wood, of little value, but no wood is seen – no humanity, nothing of man must be seen. We are covered in gold – the precious Divine nature [2 Peter 1:4 He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.] [2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.] We are clothed in glory. [Romans 8:30 these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.] We have been glorified, glory is our destiny. [Colossians 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.] We have this treasure in earthen vessels [2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves;]. The glory of God dwells in frail humans – the wood is covered in gold! How can man stand up bearing the glory of God? Try standing a board up on end! [demonstrate] Can’t do it! We cannot stand on our own two feet. You try to stand by yourself and you will fall flat on your face. So how did they get these top-heavy boards to stand? They were set on foundations, sockets of silver.
Sockets of Silver – silver [P], in the OT silver meant money, the word for silver כֶסֶף; but many times is simply translated money, things purchased with silver: weighed out or in silver coins. The Israelites had to pay יְהוָה a price for each individual: [Exodus 30:11-16 יְהוָה also spoke to Moses, saying, “When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to יְהוָה, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. “This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerahs), half a shekel as a contribution to יְהוָה. “Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to יְהוָה. “The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less than the half shekel, when you give the contribution to יְהוָה to make atonement for yourselves. “You shall take the atonement money from the sons of Israel and shall give it for the service of the tent of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the sons of Israel before יְהוָה to make atonement for yourselves.”] It didn’t matter who you were, a ransom must be paid for all – we all need to be redeemed – it is the same price for all: not silver or gold but the blood of Jesus [1 Peter 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.] Every Israelite male had to pay half a shekel of silver – this silver was used to make the sockets which enabled these top heavy boards to remain upright. [Exodus 38:25-28 The silver of those of the congregation who were numbered was 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary; a beka a head (that is, half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for each one who passed over to those who were numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for 603,550 men. The hundred talents of silver were for casting the sockets of the sanctuary and the sockets of the veil; one hundred sockets for the hundred talents, a talent for a socket. Of the 1,775 shekels, he made hooks for the pillars and overlaid their tops and made bands for them.] [P] So silver speaks of redemption. [P]You cannot stand in the dwelling place of יְהוָה unless you are redeemed. Each board had two projections, “tenons”, like feet, which stuck out the bottom of the board. These slotted into silver bases or sockets. This heavy base enabled the top heavy board to stand on its end [P]. We have to have both feet solidly set in the redemption purchased by Christ’s atoning death on the cross – He purchased us, we are His possession. We were His by right of creation, we sold ourselves to the devil, and he redeemed us, bought us back for His own. The price was the blood of Jesus – a spotless, sinless man. [Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.] – Not individuals but a people. [Ephesians 1:13-14 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.] . This is the only reason we can stand because Jesus purchased us with His blood. [Romans 5:1-2 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand] God makes us righteous, we are justified by faith in Jesus, and we stand in grace because we are redeemed by God’s grace – we didn’t deserve it but he chose to purchase us for Himself. We have to have both feet solidly rooted in this redemption – we must not have one foot in the world – or we are guaranteed to topple. If we try to stand on any other ground, our efforts, good works, any other god, any other source of reliance we will fall. There is only one way to stand and that is utter and exclusive reliance on Jesus’ redemptive work.
Bars – It is a difficult thing to get a plank to stand up! Only because of 1/ silver sockets; but even then they easily can be toppled, there is no structure, just isolated plinths – that’s no dwelling place! The other thing that enables the boards to stand stable and strong is: 2/ their connection with other boards holding together, one board doesn’t make a tabernacle. The boards were held together by bars – five to each side. One went right through all 20 of them in the middle, above and below was another bar that went half way through [P]. The bars locked the individual boards into a solid wall, bound them together in unity [P] – [look at model]. [Ephesians 4:1-16 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (I spoke a while back on unity – one of the most disastrous messages I ever delivered!). There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.” And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.] Notice how often the word “one” is used – we are one, we are to be united. [Galatians 3:28 for you are all one in Christ Jesus.] The Divine end to which the cross leads is the one new man in Christ – as Christians God would have us see ourselves not as men but as a man. The goal of Divine thought is in fact one heavenly Man, not a host of little men. We are a single body, not a group of individuals. We are an extremely individualistic society – our Maori brothers have a better understanding in the concept of whanau – each is part of the other. This passage speaks, in the context of unity, of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – sometimes called the “five-fold ministry” – five bars that hold the church together as one unit. Unity – you can’t be a Christian in isolation – I know, I tried. But many think that they can. God didn’t redeem individuals but a nation. A board can’t stand up unless it is standing alongside its brother, bound by the bars. If you are not a stone in the temple, a board in the tabernacle – then you are not part of the dwelling place of God. Christ does not dwell in you. Did you hear me? If you are not in fellowship, Christ is not living in you. Naturally I’m a hermit, being alone is my favourite state – but that’s not what God has called us to [Acts 2:44-47 And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.] The early church was characterised by unity – they had all things in common, were constantly together [Acts 4:32-35 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.] We are a very individualistic independent society – we could learn from the Maori – this is not how God intends His church to be. He does not dwell in a bunch of individuals. You’ve got to build the tabernacle according to the pattern – there is no place for isolation or independence.
Conclusion: So what does the frame of the tabernacle ]P] with its boards tell us?
1. That יְהוָה’s dwelling place is among men – frail, fallible man. ]P] The wood pictures our human nature – frail man with all his failings. How can that be a dwelling of God?
2. The wood is covered in gold [P] - we are clothed in the Divine nature – Christ Himself dwells in us! We are partakers of the Divine nature, clothed in righteousness Divine. But how can mortal man stand bearing the weight of divine glory?
3. Only by being redeemed purchased with the blood of Jesus. [P] Silver represents redemption, being purchased by God as His own. We stand on the basis of our being redeemed by Jesus’ blood by God’s grace.
4. But we are not individual boards; we are a tabernacle – a place where God dwells. ]P] Bound together by bars. In fellowship. Love binding us together, the unity of the Holy Spirit. [Romans 5:5 The love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.] Held together in unity – a cohesive body, a fellowship. That is where יְהוָה dwells.