man and woman looking at blueprints February 14, 15 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Exodus 36:8- 40:38

Note: The calendar dates in today’s study are combined because of a continuing theme. You may wish to do the Bible reading on the 14th (The Living Bible provides an easier version to understand - use browser arrow to return to this Bible study, Exodus 36:8-40:38). Then read this Bible study devotional on the 15th.

Getting It Right (following the design)

Happy Valentine's Day! For those of you who wish for a message about love and relationships, many helpful things can be learned from this lesson on following God's design for the building of the tabernacle. In order not to take away from the meaning of today's lesson, however, these relationship building principles will be given at the end.

Suppose that we have a project and want to begin construction. We have a plan, we have the materials, we have the labor, and we have the resources to start. How do we make sure that the project we want to do is done right?

First, we need to have willing laborers who desire to work on the project. There is nothing more discouraging to a construction project than unmotivated workers. They may arrive late and leave early. They may just stand around and waste time. They may not care about the project or its quality. The tabernacle was the portable worship center for Israel 1,500 years before Christ. When it was being constructed, the materials for the tabernacle were gathered by willing volunteers, who gave with great generosity. The building of the tabernacle was also done by willing volunteers. There was no forced labor like they experienced in Egypt.

Second, although we may get willing volunteers for general labor, we must still have skilled laborers to complete the work with quality. This was also true with the construction of the tabernacle.

Then Moses said to the Israelites,

See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts-- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers-- all of them master craftsmen and designers. (Exodus 35:30-35, NIV)

In the church age, of which we are a part, God has gifted believers with talents and abilities (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4:7-16), and he wants them to be willing to use their gifts for his glory. We are not all gifted in the same way. However, instead of using the excuse, “I don’t have that gift so I can’t do it,” we can be trained to help so that the whole church will be encouraged and built up.

Third, we need someone to inspect the work to make sure that the work is done just right. If you have read today’s Bible reading, you will be struck by one thought: “I just read this a couple of days ago. Why is this repeated again?” You are right. Chapters 36-39 are almost an exact repetition of chapters 25-31, and then in Exodus 39:43 it is recorded that Moses inspected everything that was made for the tabernacle. The point is that the construction was done exactly as the blueprint was dictated to Moses on Mt. Sinai. In fact, in Chapter 40 there is a constant refrain that Moses made everything related to the tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly as the LORD commanded. If we think about it, this is a convicting thought: Do we do exactly what God commands us to do? When we read in the Bible his blueprints for our lives and for spiritually building our churches, do we follow his blueprints exactly or just somewhat?

Why was the tabernacle to be made exactly as the LORD told Moses, without modifications? Hebrews 8:5 says the sanctuary was

a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (NIV)

Each article of the tabernacle has spiritual significance for us. The Ark of the Covenant, with the angelic beings on top, pictures the glorious but invisible presence of God. The lamp represents Jesus, the light of the world (John 8:12). The table of showbread, with the two piles of six unleavened flat cakes on it, represents fellowship between God and the twelve tribes of Israel. Today, the way is open, not just for Jews to have fellowship with God, but for believing Gentiles (non-Jews) to have fellowship with him as well (1John 1:3; Ephesians 2:11-18). The altar of incense represents prayer (Luke 1:11-13; Revelation 5:8). Entrance into the presence of God was once inaccessible, except by the high priest once a year. But with the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, he, as our high priest, is able to bring us into the presence of God (Hebrews 9:7-15). The bronze altar of sacrifice at the entrance of the courtyard represents the sacrifice necessary for sins. When we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins in our place, we are forgiven of them and completely exonerated. The bronze basin was used for the priests to wash before ministering with the articles of the tabernacle and its furnishings. Like the priests, we, too, need daily cleansing of our sins so that we may lead holy lives and handle the holy things of God (i.e., our spiritual ministry). (for representative pictures of the inner sanctuary of the Tabernacle and its furnishings, see more...)

The tabernacle was a very opulent structure. For some reason, Moses felt it important to record all the precious metals, stones, and luxurious fabric used in the construction. Why? Perhaps it was to show that they served a worthy God. He is holy and magnificent and worthy of our praise. Some of the precious metals used were gold, silver, and bronze. One ton of gold was used for the tabernacle proper and its furnishings, where the priests ministered. Three and three-quarter tons of silver were collected when there was a census of all the 603,000 male Israelites. It was used for the temple and its maintenance, (Exodus 30:12; 38:25). Two and one half tons of bronze were used for the altar and its articles used in sacrifice, the bronze basin, courtyard frames, bases, and tent pegs. What do the materials used for the tabernacle have to do with us? 1Peter 1:18-19 says,

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. (NIV)

Christ is more precious than the precious metals of the tabernacle! Have you accepted him? Have you accepted his sacrifice as payment for your sins so that you may be forgiven and able to enter the very presence of God? (more...)

When the tabernacle was finished, everything was then set up and anointed for service, including the priests. Everything was done exactly as God wanted it done. Then the presence of God in the form of a cloud descended, and the glory of God filled the tabernacle. Whenever the presence of God lifted and moved from the tabernacle, the Israelites traveled, but whenever it settled, for however long, they stayed. Are we sensitive to the leading of the LORD? In everything, let’s try to get it right.

Lessons to live by: How do we make sure that the project we want to do is done right?

  • First, we need to have willing laborers who desire to work on the project.
  • Second, we must have skilled laborers to complete the work with quality. God has gifted believers with talents and abilities, and he wants them to willing use their gifts for his glory.
  • Third, we need someone to inspect the work to see that the work is done just right. Do we do exactly what God commands us to do when we read in the Bible his blueprints for our lives and for building our churches?

Today’s Bible memory verse: Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (NIV)

Principles for building relationships:

  • You must be willing to work on the relationship.
  • Be generous in your love.
  • You can't force love.
  • Good relationships are built by good Christians giving their all.
  • When needed, it is good to get counsel from a mature Christian person regarding your relationship, but sometimes relationships need professional help.
  • Follow the blueprint of God's Word in your relationship. Is your relationship pleasing to God? Are you honoring him in the way you relate to each other?
  • Love, trust and obedience are necessary ingredients in building relationships. When we mess up, confessing our faults and asking for forgiveness are necessary materials in rebuilding and maintaining them (more about this in our next lesson).

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