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Scripture reading – Exodus 37-38

To Israel, the visible presence of the Tabernacle was a constant reminder of God’s presence amid His people. The LORD named not only the principal builder, Bezaleel (37:1), but because it was His sanctuary, He also gave precise details for its design and furnishings. There was no room for ambiguity in the LORD’s house.

Exodus 37 – The Design of the Tabernacle and its Furnishings

The Ark, Mercy-Seat, and Cherubim (Exodus 37:1-9)

The materials, construction, and dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant were chronicled (37:1-4), and served as the figure of God’s heavenly throne in the midst of His people (Psalm 80:1; 99:1). The Ark was designed to be portable and was transported using staves (wooden rods overlaid with gold), and carried by priests during Israel’s sojourn in the wilderness (37:3-5; 30:1-6).  Gold overlaid the Ark, including the “mercy seat,” upon which two cherubim faced one another with outstretched wings (37:7-9). (The gold served as a reminder of the purity and holiness of God’s throne of judgment.)

The Table, Altar, and Utensils (Exodus 37:10-28)

There were other furnishings crafted and employed in the tabernacle. These were itemized (37:10-28) and described in detail. Included in the inventory were a table, dishes, bowls, spoons, an elaborate candlestick, and an “altar of incense” (37:25-29), all overlaid with gold.

The Holy Oil and Incense (Exodus 37:29)

For ceremonial dedication, a “holy anointing oil” (37:29a) was made and used to anoint the tabernacle and its furnishings and sanctify the priests when they served the LORD before the people (30:23-38). Also, incense was made to be used only in the Tabernacle (37:29b).

Exodus 38 – The Preparation for the Tabernacle Courtyard

The Brazen Altar and Laver of Brass (Exodus 38:1-8)

Though not named, the personal pronoun “he” was a reference to Bezaleel, the builder whom the LORD chose (Exodus 31:1-5, 35:30-33; 37:1; 38:1). Bezaleel “made the altar of burnt offering” (38:1) according to the LORD’s design (37:1-8).

He also made a “laver of brass” (38:8), a large bowl or fount used by priests for washing their hands and feet (30:17-21). (Notice the women gave their “looking-glasses for the metal used in the washing laver. These were mirrors, but consisted of polished metal rather than the glass mirrors of modern times with a silver-coated back.)

Bezaleel also oversaw the manufacture of curtains, which, when assembled, formed the exterior courtyard around the Tabernacle and brass altar (38:9-20).

Summary of Offerings and Precious Metals (Exodus 38:21-31)

Exodus 38:21-31 is a reminder that nothing was left to chance, for we have a record and accounting of the gold, silver, and brass used in preparing the sanctuary and its furnishings (38:21-31). Though it might appear insignificant, the account reminds me that God notes our tithes and offerings. We are also reminded of the principal men God chose and who were willing to use their talents and skills for the LORD; “Bezaleel the son of Uri,” a carpenter (38:22), and Aholiab, son of Ahisamach” an “engraver…and an embroiderer” (38:23).

Finally, the tally of the gold, silver, and brass revealed the people’s enormous sacrifice, as they gave for the construction and furnishings of the Tabernacle, the Sanctuary of the LORD on earth.

Questions to consider:

1) Who were the principal craftsmen, and why did the LORD choose them? (Exodus 31:1-6; 35:30-35; 38:22-23)

2) Why do you think God did not choose Moses to build the Tabernacle and its vessels?

3) Minute details were recorded for the materials, design, and construction of the Ark of the Covenant, the curtains of the Tabernacle, the altar, and the courtyard. What insights does this give us regarding the character of God and our need to prepare ourselves for worshipping Him?

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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