Lord’s Library’s Ministry Leaders Series is a collection of contributed articles written by ministry leaders on key Christian topics. In this submission, Andy Levine offers the essential Tabernacle in the Wilderness Scripture Bible study.
Exodus 25:8 says “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.”
The Hebrew word for sanctuary is mishkan, which means dwelling place. It is used 139 times in the Old Testament, always referring to the sanctuary, the “tent of meeting.” Just as God was with His people in the wilderness, His desire is to be with His people today.
- 1 Corinthians 3:16: “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
- 2 Corinthians 6:16: “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
When we hear God’s heartbeat, we hear this, and John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Let your senses and your spirit experience the atmosphere of this dwelling place:
- Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”
When we are used to living in such a beautiful, relational place with God then the adversities of life on this planet affect us differently than they did before. Sure we feel things emotionally. Disappointment, sorrow, grief, and panic when the car is broken and there’s no budget to fix it. Some anxieties are normal, and if we understand the process they will cause our faith to grow. Our compassion for others grows deeper. They no longer shake our faith, hinder our hope or confidence that “God’s got this.” We can better deal with those emotions and put worry and panic aside.
Tabernacle in the Wilderness Scripture Bible Study
Moses Goes into God’s Presence
The description in Exodus 25 is preceded by several wonderful chapters describing miraculous things God is doing with Moses and Israel. We see Moses frequently communing with God and receiving the 10 Commandments. Now, just before the “tent of meeting” is detailed, there is a key to hearing God’s heartbeat. Moses took a risk to get closer to the presence of God. Picture the scene at the end of Exodus 24 as the Lord calls Moses:
- Exodus 24:12: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.”
- Exodus 24:15: “And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.”
So far this sounds pretty cool, like something many believers would not hesitate to do, wow, experience the Shekinah. Look a little further, are you ready for this?
- Exodus 24:16-18: “And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.”
Moses followed the call of God to a place of interaction with the Almighty, a place to be alone with God, a place where he would hear God’s heartbeat.
Jesus Extended the Invitation (We Go There Too)
Are we that desperate for intimacy with God that we would climb up a mountain, get to the top even though it looked like “devouring fire on the top of the mount?” Was Peter this desperate when he got out of the boat to walk on the water in the midst of a storm? I’m glad Jesus makes it easy for us:
- Matthew 11:28-30: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Look at the purpose of this elaborate, ornate, detailed place again in Exodus 25:8: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.“
Where people live together, they relate to one another. As we look at the details of the Tabernacle, let’s make sure to keep this foundation in mind. Everything must come back to this cornerstone truth that the Tabernacle is where we live with God, where we relate to Him. The Father’s heart is not just to have weekly visits with the Saints in the church house, He wants to live among us.
- Isaiah 54:5: “For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.”
It’s on God’s Terms
From Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary: “For the scripture is designed to direct us in our duty, not to fill our heads with speculations, nor to please our fancies.”
This relationship, however, must be on His terms, “He is Lord.”
- Exodus 25:9: “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”
Our relationship with God is not on our own terms. Though we live under grace, not law, we cannot live with the concept that everyone can do what is right in his own eyes. Living for the Lord, relating to God, is under the concept that John the Baptist, and then Jesus, preached:
- Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Studying the tabernacle will give us insights into God’s terms for this relationship. His terms are wonderful and reflect His loving character.
Look again at Exodus 25:1: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,”
Though the Scriptures repeat this phrase, or others like it frequently, think about the consequence of these occurrences and think of how rarely they occur in the lives of Bible characters. We have daily communication with the Father but words with such tremendous consequence are rare. Yes, we must be led by the Spirit but we are given the wisdom to live. There are those special times when you know you have heard from God and they should always be “wows” to us. Such special instructions reveal the conditions of the heart.
- Exodus 25:2: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.”
God told Moses to speak to about 2 million people. Now that’s a wow! The Lord was very specific in His instructions and showed His character. He was asking, not ordering, the people to part with a large amount of high-dollar stuff. Nothing in the list (Exodus 25:3-7) was common or inexpensive. These former slaves did not leave Egypt empty-handed, they came into some big bucks. Now the Lord is asking them to give it to build the Tabernacle of Moses. The verse emphasizes that this must be a willing, heart-felt, offering. Remember, these are Jews, and the response was overwhelming. Now that is a wow!
When God makes His plan and purpose plain and shows His love at the same time, His people respond. Hearts are moved to sacrificial action at the demonstration of His love and power. This awesome display of supernatural power on Mt. Sinai coupled with a request, not an order, is a combination the hearts of man cannot but respond to generously.
We see that God earnestly desires that there be a meeting place, indeed a dwelling place, where He is among us. The Tabernacle in the Wilderness was a shadow, a pre-cursor, to the reality of a people who are new creatures in Christ, a people with God in our hearts and living a life of worship. When in that place of relationship with God who is in our hearts, worship becomes a lifestyle. As we continue this study and look at some details of this magnificent tent of meeting, it is with the emphasis that we grow closer to the wonderful God we worship, who continuously reveals Himself to us in so many ways.
- Revelation 21:3: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.”
Altar Call: The invitation God gave Moses to come up to Him is extended to us. We have the choice. Do we climb the mountain of His love, leading others to freedom, or do we take the easy way and slide into the muck of sin? With every temptation, He makes a way of escape. Do you ascend the hill of the Lord, or slide to hell on greasy grace? Life or death, it’s our choice.
Our love affair with God should be sufficient motivation to climb up, go up the stairs into His chambers. Love is not something you fall into, it is a mountain to climb. I hope you always decide to keep climbing the mountain. Do we love our acquaintances and family enough to pray through the tabernacle for opportunities to have this conversation with them?
Things to Learn From What the Scripture Doesn’t Say
It is easy to get sidetracked, the enemy would love to see you so busy with what doesn’t matter that you miss the things the Lord has for you. There are many specifics not mentioned in the description of the tabernacle. As an engineer, my carnal mind finds this irritating, I want more detail. The Lord wonderfully gives us all we need, let’s not make a science project to figure out all that manna was, arguing as we do so.
Exodus 25:3-7 lists some things, but no quantities are mentioned, nothing is said as to how to gather it, how to store it. They didn’t know if they would be in one place long enough to complete the project, or if they might have to be transporting all this stuff. The scripture didn’t have to say any more for us to get the message to give what the Lord puts on your heart to give, give willingly, give generously, and give specifically.
Exodus 25:10-12 describes the ark, but how were the sides joined? How was the bottom held in place? How thick were the boards that it was made of? How thick was the overlay? What was the diameter of the rings to hold the staves?– Who cares? The fact that these scriptures don’t mention these details is that they don’t matter. Those details won’t help you win the lost or become more like Jesus.
On Exodus 25:13-15: How long were these sticks? What was their diameter? How thick was the gold overlay? Did they stick out past the Ark, like we see in pictures, or were they the same length as the Ark, so it was carried like a coffin? This would make it easier to walk around inside the Holy of Holies. After all, the Lord did say not to remove the sticks from the rings. Can you just do what the Lord asks you to do without knowing all the details? Do you really need to know all the long-term implications of obedience? Isn’t God trustworthy? He will give us all we need so let’s not complain or get hung up on tangents that don’t profit.
Application: We’re not asking God how long it will take to see Glad Tidings get big again, we just take it 1 week at a time and be faithful.
The Tabernacle Symbolizes the Unity of the Church
Exodus 26 contains considerable detail about the construction of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Its walls are curtains, boards, support pieces, and connectors. The roof is made of several layers of different cloth and skins. There is significance in the typology of all the detail, however, let’s look at it from above, as the eagle looks down and sees it.
First of all, this is no ordinary tent. It is extremely beautiful and ornate. It is built first-class. This shows the nature of God and also how the Father sees the heart of His kids. We can be comfortable in such beauty and splendor, in such extravagance, because we are children of the King of Kings. This is a beautiful place and God sees you as so beautiful, so lovely. He loves you enough to have given His life for your redemption. The Holy of Holies is such an awesome place, with so much gold, so much amazing craftsmanship, and such a beautiful veil to pass through to get inside. It is in this place that the Father wants to meet with us, at the Mercy Seat, at the heart of everything that the Tabernacle is all about.
Another amazing thing about the tabernacle is that the tent all fits together. There are lots and lots of pieces. There are big pieces, little pieces, heavy stuff and small lightweights, wood, gold brass, silver, cloth, and animal skins. Each piece has prophetic significance, practical functions, and some life application of scripture. All this stuff can only be put together “according to the pattern shown thee on the mount.” Can you see the analogy to the church, to the Body of Christ?
Psalm 133 becomes more important in this light. What would happen if the blue loop on the edge of the curtain told the gold tache to stay away, “leave me alone, I don’t want to be connected to that other blue loop,”? There wouldn’t “be one tabernacle.” like the Bible says in Exodus 26:6. What about that big wood board, covered in gold (Exodus 26:16)? It is happy to be between two other boards just like itself, but oh no, it refused to be put into that socket, thinking it is too good to be put into inferior silver. It would fall down! I believe the Lord sheds tears over the disunity within churches and between churches and denominations.
God’s Presence Goes with Us
The first detail listed is the Ark of the Covenant. Just the name of this item indicates that a relationship with God is a place of safety. Noah built the ark that God used to save life from the flood. A covenant is more binding than a legal contract so entering into God’s covenant is a safe thing to do.
- Exodus 25:22: “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”
Here is the place to hang out, at the Mercy Seat.
The Ark of the covenant played a very significant role in the Exodus, and at other times in ancient Jewish history. This verse sets the Biblical precedent:
- Numbers 10:33: “And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.”
It is symbolic of God’s omnipresence, you take Him with you wherever you go. The whole tabernacle was designed for mobility, frequent set-up, tear-down, and transport. From wherever you were when you first got saved until you get to heaven, your life is an exodus and the Lord is with you throughout the trip. The following promise to Moses is something we can cling to today:
- Exodus 33:14-16: “And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence. For wherein shall it be known here that I and thy people have found grace in thy sight? is it not in that thou goest with us? so shall we be separated, I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the earth.”
It was work to take the ark with them. It was heavy, especially with its contents. It takes some work to carry His presence with us wherever we go. It involves staying prayed up and walking in the Spirit. It requires understanding and bearing the weight of His glory, not just in church, but in the world. Jesus is our example, look what happened when He showed up at the wedding party. He didn’t steal the show but He sure made a difference.
Challenge: I read an article that challenged me, and I put this out to you, to look at things that have become habits, especially concerning cell phones and technology in general, to determine if those habits are beneficial. Do they help cultivate His Presence and love in my life? Do I spend time in face-to-face communication with people on a regular basis – no phone allowed? Do we use technology as a tool or does it just captivate our time and attention feeding us dribble and junk?
The Brazen Altar: The Place of Sacrifice
The very first thing you would encounter as you walk through the main entrance to the Tabernacle is the very large, very special, and at the risk of sounding sacrilegious, Barbecue Pit.
Exodus 27:1 says: “And thou shalt make an altar of shittim wood, five cubits long, and five cubits broad; the altar shall be foursquare: and the height thereof shall be three cubits.”
Verses 2-7 list many of the details of it, but again the point is found in verse 8: “Hollow with boards shalt thou make it: as it was shewed thee in the mount, so shall they make it.”
This Brazen Altar was very different than the piles of rock altars mentioned in other parts of Scripture. It is very special and for a very special purpose. We cannot come before God without sacrifice, we cannot bring sin into His presence. Access to the Holy Place, and then the Holy of Holies; was blocked by the Brazen Altar. Something happens at this altar:
- Exodus 29:36-37: “And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.”
- Hebrews 9:22: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
This altar was that place of sacrifice, a place to butcher and cook the various sacrifices and offerings. People brought their animals here to offer to God for sin and peace offerings. The priests had butchering and cooking jobs. The disgusting aspects of this place remind us of how gross sin is before God. The great smell of meat cooking stirs the senses, stimulating a hunger for fellowship with God made possible by the sacrifice.
The Brazen Altar was made of bronze, not gold like all the other items we have mentioned so far. Gold is not a good material to cook on. Bronze is an alloy made from copper and tin. Neither of these materials are very strong by themselves, but when combined, you have a very durable material that can handle the heat. This speaks of our lives with or without Christ.
The scriptures repeatedly bring up the concept of sacrifice. The sacrifices at this altar are described in detail in Ex.29:36-42. What is wonderful is the next verse after this description:
- Exodus 29:42-43: “This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.“
We need to recognize that Glad Tidings Tabernacle, the building but more so the people of this church are also sanctified. We need to cherish that this setting apart is evidenced by His presence.
The Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines sanctify as “In a general sense, to cleanse, purify or make holy.”
There is a price to experience this fellowship. Jesus paid it for us at the Cross.
- Matthew 4:17: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
We have to repent in order to experience the Kingdom of God. He gives us the grace and power to do so but we have to do it. This is why the horns of this altar are so important:
- Psalms 118: “God is the LORD, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.”
We often struggle with giving something to God and then take it back. It takes an act of our will, empowered by the Holy Ghost within, to tie it to the horns of the altar and leave it there, let it be consumed by the fire of God.
Exodus 25:31 says: “And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.”
Verses 32-38 list many details of it but the point is:
- Exodus 25:39-40: “Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels. And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.“
At the current price for gold, 75 lbs of gold would cost $2,241,162.
The Lampstand has become a significant symbol throughout Jewish history. Celebrating the miracle of Chanukah keeps it a constant ornament in every Jewish home. I especially appreciate the way Jesus explodes the concept into the lives of believers:
- Matthew 5:14-16: “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Jesus so often takes spiritual truth and makes it such a wonderful, practical reality for us to walk in. What is Jesus saying for us to be and to do today? Understanding that we are in the end times should provoke us all the more to get a hold of the present-day application of the Word, present-day apprehension of His power to live the Word and be the Light of the World. We must always walk in Holiness and stay rapture ready!
What is this light that we reflect? The lampstand was made of pure gold, a substance used throughout the Word as a symbol of God’s purity, His Holiness, and His Presence. Matt. 5:16, quoted above, defines the test of one’s spirituality. Is your life a reflection of His Glory?
Impurity in your life is like thick steam clouding it up. Great harm has been done to the cause of Christ by those to whom great light was shined on but they didn’t reflect it clearly.
- 1 John 2:15-16: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
To look at what we should reflect and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13. And let’s keep it simple:
- Romans 14:16-17: “Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
- Romans 14:19: “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
The Altar of Incense
In Exodus 30:1, the Bible says “And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim wood shalt thou make it.”
- Exodus 30:7-9: “And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon.”
When the priest went to tend the Golden Candlestick, he also was to burn incense at the Golden Altar. This Altar was in the Holy Place, with the Candlestick just outside the Veil of the Holy of Holies. This was a special place that only the High Priest went and this was an important part of his daily work. What a job, to enjoy God’s Presence in this beautiful Holy Place!
- Psalm 27:4-6: “One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.”
David makes this a place of Praise, exploding the concept of this wonderful relationship with God beyond those special people in the fancy clothes. We can all experience this relationship with God because in the New Covenant we are all Priests and Kings before God. But there is another awesome analogy to see concerning the Altar of Incense.
- Revelation 8:3-4: “And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.”
The sweet-smelling smoke of the incense at this altar carries our prayers to the Throne of God in Heaven. This altar, consecrated by the sprinkling of blood, covered in gold, is a place of prayer, a place to share your heart with God.
- Psalms 91:1-2: “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.”
We see in these verses the 1st aspect of prayer in this place, to find God as our refuge from the cares of this life. Oh, what a burden lifter He is:
- 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
Prayer is so powerful and the vehicle by which we see victory in every spiritual battle. We know from the verse just quoted that He hears our prayers.
- Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
This victory is confirmed in the following verses, and many other places.
- 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
There were many great revivals in the 19th and 20th centuries. Typical in all of them were the intercessors, people who spent many hours in prayer and fasting for the results of evangelistic meetings or for changes in places. This part of the country needs revival and it will take intercessors to bring it about. It also takes those who reflect the light of the Lamp stand:
- Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
- 1 John 3:8: “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
And why is this important?
- So that believers experience victory over sin in their lives.
- So that people would be spared from eternity in hell.
- So that people might enjoy fellowship with God here and now!
- So that those going through adversity will do so experiencing God’s Grace and supernatural provision.
- So that the sick are healed and the oppressed go free.
Purpose of the Priestly Uniform
A wonderful aspect of the Christian’s relationship with God is our role as priests. Exodus 28 goes into great detail concerning the priesthood and the special garments worn by Aaron and his sons. The “Aaronic” priesthood, the position of the Cohen, was hereditary and is filled with lessons for us today. Let’s look at the uniform of this early priesthood and get an understanding of our role as priests and how that relates to our relationship to God.
The Divine Call
Exodus 28:1 says: “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.”
- Hebrews 5:4: “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.”
The Divine Purpose
Hebrews 5:1-3 says: “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.”
Purpose of the Priestly Clothing
- Exodus 28:2: “And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty.”
- Psalms 132:9: “Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.”
- Psalms 132:16: “I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy.”
As we look more closely at this uniform, we see things that apply to how we conduct ourselves as a nation of priests unto God. It is like when you dress up in a fancy dress or suit, you are more mindful to watch your manners and are acutely aware of why you are dressed up. It is also like a solder dressed in full battle gear, ready to use everything he (or she ) is wearing:
- The clothes are a constant reminder of the dignity of the office the Lord has called us to. We are Christ’s ambassadors, living letters to the world; examples of Jesus. Our lives reflect Him to the world so we should conduct ourselves in such a way as to show His love and holiness.
- These clothes were for beauty and glory. God sees you as beautiful; He loves you as His bride. He has invested His Glory in you – we have Christ in us, the Hope of Glory.
- The clothing of righteousness and salvation should also produce a shout for joy. Because we have a Great High Priest, Jesus the Lord, we are the saints that shout aloud for joy.
Exodus 28:3 says: “And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.”
This uniform was to be made of the finest materials and made by the finest craftsmen. When we can’t afford to do something twice, we use the best person to do it right the first time. The Lord gifted people with aptitude and great skill. This reminds us that we all have gifts and talents the Lord has given us and we have the responsibility to use them for His glory.
I might not be the right guy to fix your plumbing or replace a roof. My calling is more to write and to teach. That’s why I write these teachings and follow His leading to share them. That is why I play my guitar on the worship team, that His people may be pointed to Him. Pastors and other church leaders, have the wonderful responsibility to help us find out what our gifts and talents are, then to give us opportunities to use them. As we grow and prosper, the church is edified (built) and Jesus is glorified through us.
Specifics of the Priestly Garments
Basic parts of the High Priest’s Uniform:
- The Golden Crown of Aaron, the Cohen
- The Ephod
- The Breastplate of Judgment also called Righteousness
- The Sacred White Garments of Aaron for the Day of Atonement
- The bells and pomegranates on the hem of the robes
Aaron’s Crown: The Priest Stands in the Gap
Exodus 28:36 says: “And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and grave upon it, like the engravings of a signet, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.“
- Exodus 28;37-38: “And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the mitre; upon the forefront of the mitre it shall be. And it shall be upon Aaron’s forehead, that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the LORD.”
Would you live your life any differently if you wore a hat or tee shirt that said this? If Jesus is Lord of your life then the Father sees you wearing this banner. There is no excuse for us not to recognize the high standards of conduct and integrity He empowers us to live.
Exodus 28:6-12 says: “And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work. It shall have the two shoulderpieces thereof joined at the two edges thereof; and so it shall be joined together. And the curious girdle of the ephod, which is upon it, shall be of the same, according to the work thereof; even of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.”
The Ephod was a two-piece garment that was held together by a braided strap that lay over the shoulders. One part covered the High Priest’s chest, the other his back and was embroidered with blue, purple and red linen yarns. On the braided shoulder straps were two onyx stones with the names of 6 of the tribes of Israel engraved on each stone. It was an outer garment designed for beauty and to support the stones of the shoulder pieces and breastplate.
Exodus 28:9-12 says: “And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.”
Notice that the names are born on the shoulders, not on cloth epaulets but engraved in onyx stones. They could not have been small stones to be engraved with 6 names on each. These stones must have weighed enough for the priest to be very aware of where they were. We carry the names of our loved ones on our shoulders!
Sometimes we may experience this weight as a burden to pray. We may experience it as a sense of urgency to do or say something. We may feel compelled by the God we love, to some action.
The weight on the shoulders was increased because also hanging from them was the Breastplate of Judgment.
Breastplate of Judgment
Exodus 28:15-16 says: “And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof.”
Then the verses list the 12 types of stones and how everything is attached to the Ephod. This 9” square plate is hanging from the shoulders and fastened around the body, held close to the heart. Right after, we see that:
- Exodus 28:21: “And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes.”
- Exodus 28:29: “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.”
These names, engraved on stones, this weight hanging from the shoulders, these precious stones (not ordinary rocks), all are part of our battle gear. It is always a good thing to ask the Lord what He would have you to pray about. It is also a good thing to ask Him if He wants you to put feet to those prayers, asking Him for His marching orders. For some those orders may be just to pray. For others they may be to take action that is Spirit led, Grace empowered, Prayer supported – thus effective in accomplishing God’s will.
The Lord also provided a way for Israel’s leaders to know His direction in major decisions.
- Exodus 28:30: “And thou shalt put in the breastplate of judgment the Urim and the Thummim; and they shall be upon Aaron’s heart, when he goeth in before the LORD: and Aaron shall bear the judgment of the children of Israel upon his heart before the LORD continually.“
According to Bible.org, “most scholars believe them to be two sticks or stones, perhaps precious stones, that God used in a miraculous way to reveal His will. They were used for national decisions like going to war, and for priestly matters.”
Exodus 28:31-35 says: “And thou shalt make the robe of the ephod all of blue. And there shall be an hole in the top of it, in the midst thereof: it shall have a binding of woven work round about the hole of it, as it were the hole of an habergeon, that it be not rent. And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.”
This is a very simple, practically designed garment. Worn between the white undergarments and the Ephod, it was a piece of blue cloth that went down to knee level with just a hole in the middle for the priest’s head. This hole had to be reinforced so that it would not tear. How practical can you get?.
What made this garment so beautiful was the hem. The fancy pomegranates could have been symbolic of the sweetness of God’s Holy Presence. The bells were a signal to everyone within earshot that the priest was going into the Holy Place, it was a call to prayer. In Luke 1 we read about Zacharias taking his turn to burn incense:
Experiencing the Shekina
Exodus 25:8-9 says: “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.”
These are the verses that started this study. They show the goal and how to attain it. God expresses His love, His desire to dwell among those He loves. He also shows us how to respond to His love – by obedience.
Now we want to look at what happened when the Tabernacle was completed. Aaron and his sons were suited up and consecrated through an elaborate ceremony. Sacrifices were offered. Everything was in place:
- Exodus 40:33-35: “And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”
This is such an awesome demonstration of God’s great love, the Almighty dwelling with man, showing us His glory. There is nothing in life as fantastic as experiencing the Shekinah, God’s Manifest Presence in such awesome power. It causes you to just fall in love with Him, intensely.
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- Tabernacle in the Wilderness Scripture Bible Study - March 7, 2023
- Tabernacle of Moses in the Bible Explained with Scripture Study - February 13, 2023