Reading: Exodus 37 – 40
In reading the end of Exodus have you ever thought, “Didn't I just read this?” But that is the point. You are supposed to think, “Didn't I just read this?” and then you are supposed to compare what you read before with what you are reading now. There is a lesson to be learned in the way it is repeated.
In Exodus 25 we begin reading, “The Lord said to Moses...,” followed by instructions of what and how they are to make it. For example we read:
"Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.
"Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.
"Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide.
"Make a table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high.
"Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it.
"Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman.
"Make curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether.
"Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle.
(Exodus 25:8, 10, 17, 23, 31; 26:1, 7, 15)
And that continues through about chapter 31 (which ends with a description of how they are to keep the sabbath). Then beginning in Chapter 36 we the following as a sample of what goes through chapter 39.
All the skilled men among the workmen made the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman.
They made curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether.
They made upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle.
They made the curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman.
Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.
They made the table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high.
They made the lampstand of pure gold and hammered it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms were of one piece with it.
They made the altar of incense out of acacia wood. It was square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high—its horns of one piece with it.
(Exodus 36:8, 14, 20, 35; 37:1, 10, 17, 25)
As you read through these chapters, underline all the times the Lord says to make, and all the times they make. You may recognize this pattern from Genesis 1. “The Lord said...and it was so!” “The Lord said...and it was so!” Not only is the pattern in the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness similar to the creation of the world, notice the description of the completion of each.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. (Genesis 2:1)
So all the work on the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses. (Exodus 39:32)
Again notice that just as the Lord blessed His people (Adam and Eve, male and female) when the work of creation was completed (Genesis 1:22, 28; 2:3), so now He has Moses bless His people when the work of the tabernacle was completed (Exodus 39:42-43).
The most significant thing of all may be what comes in between “the Lord said,” and “they made”. In Exodus 35:30-35 we read that the Lord would fill those carrying out the commands to make the tabernacle “with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge...” Just as the Spirit of God was the agent in Genesis 1 that carried out the creation orders, so now the Spirit is actively at work in this symbolic “recreation”.
When God made the heavens and the earth it was formless and void (even worse than a dessert!). There the Spirit went to work creating a garden by the Word of God. Now, in a dessert, with a people of God who are formless, but being formed, we have the tabernacle guarded by cherubim (just like Eden—Genesis 3:24); we have a tree of life represented by the candlestick shaped like a tree with almond flowers and buds; and, ultimately, we have fellowship with God made possible again because there God would dwell among His people.
As we move forward toward the New Testament we find that this pattern of God, by His Spirit recreating a people and placing them in a fruitful garden, though they walk through a dessert will be repeated (See Isaiah 32:15-19; 35:1-10). These verses in Isaiah are pointing forward to the era of the Gospel when Christ would be the true vine in the garden of God (John 15:1-8), and we would, by His Spirit dwelling in us, once again become the people of God through the proclamation of the Gospel (Galatians 5:22-23). This is the New Creation: The Gospel declaring the work of God; the Spirit making it so as He forms us into the people of God—the church of our Lord Jesus.
Is God repeating Himself? Yes, he is making a garden again... through Jesus Christ the True Vine, by the proclamation of the Gospel and the Spirit's work to make it so.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,