God Plans His Dwelling
Lord, I exalt You: “Your presence is the air I breathe, the song I sing, the love I need; without it, without it I’m not living” (Amanda Cook).
Read EXODUS 25:1–22
The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. 3 These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; 4 blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; 5 ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; 6 olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; 7 and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.
10 “Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. 12 Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. 13 Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. 15 The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. 16 Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law, which I will give you.
17 “Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. 18 And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. 19 Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. 20 The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. 21 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. 22 There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
In the Old Testament, sins are merely covered. In the new, they are remitted. No wonder the book of Hebrews says repeatedly that our covenantal arrangement is superior.
After living all of our married life in accommodations provided by others, my wife and I planned our first house: location, builder, plans, materials and furnishings. The choices were ours. Today we read of God’s plans and his choices: God wants to “dwell among” his people (8) and so orders the making of a “sanctuary” (holy place) to be a “tabernacle” (9; Hebrew mishkan, dwelling). He shows Moses the “pattern” (plan, blueprint) to follow, for both the dwelling and “all its furnishings.” The entire project comes from God’s initiative and moves forward under his direction.
This dwelling no longer exists, but its beauty and details can enhance our meditation on the splendor and provision as “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14). We can examine our own participation as God makes his church “a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit” (Eph. 2:22), as Christ and the message of Christ “dwell” within us (Eph. 3:17; Col. 3:16). The tabernacle is a foreshadowing of the new heavens and earth, where “God’s dwelling-place is now among the people” (Rev. 21:3).
The sanctuary’s central object was not an image (as elsewhere in the ancient Near East) but an “ark” (10; from Latin, arca, box) containing “the tablets of the covenant law” (16; or “the testimony”), “witness to a peculiar identity as people of Yahweh” (Walter Brueggemann, The New Interpreter’s Bible, p891). The ark’s golden “cover” pointed to the covering of sin, an “atonement” (17; Lev. 16), while “cherubim” (18 20) are known elsewhere as protectors of thrones and heavenly throne. Here was the throne where the Lord met with Moses to give his commands (22; Psa. 80:1; 99:1). The ark has disappeared, but its symbolism persists: central to our relationship with God is not an image but a covenant relationship that covers our sin as we hear and obey the will of our King.
Give thanks to God for the wonder of his “dwelling” with us and meditate on the beauty God desires.
Oh God, we thank You for the perfect atonement provided for us through the sacrifice of Your son.