There are two big ideas in Exodus 31. First, the gracious aid God gives his people to do his work. He helps them build his tabernacle. Second, Israel must be like Yahweh in resting after their work. But what Exodus 31 also shows is that Israel’s work in the sanctuary is much like God’s creation of Eden long ago.
If you look at v 4, you’ll see a list of garments Israel is to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. The breastpiece and ephod go together, and they are together at the heart of the high priests’ garments. The instructions for the Tabernacle began with the Ark, at the heart of the Tabernacle. So God begins with the heart of the priestly garments, the ephod and the breastpiece.
The morning we will look at Israel’s ongoing care for the lampstand, and then at the introduction of the high priests in the sanctuary of the Most High. The great overarching idea today is the great glory of the priestly office. If you can get that, then you should be well on your way to appreciating your own calling as a priest, but also adoring your Lord Jesus Christ, who is the preeminent priest of Yahweh.
In Ex. 27, the Lord continues his move outward with the Bronze Altar and Tabernacle Court. The Altar is the way or place through which God is approached by his people. The Courtyard, on the other hand, portrays God’s holiness which prevents sinful men from having unrestricted access to God. This morning, we’ll look at the construction of the Bronze Altar, then the Courtyard, and then we’ll work backwards in speaking of their implications.
This week, the Lord God proceeds in ch 26 to discuss the construction of the Tabernacle itself. Remember that tabernacle means dwelling place. In fact, that word for dwelling place is what comes first in the original Hebrew. With that very word, we are reminded again of the very special purpose this tent is given. The tabernacle is God’s home. We must keep this before our understanding and affections as we proceed through Exodus 26. As a place of God’s presence, the Tabernacle is a place of grace, It is a home of mercy and covenant love.
As God explains how the Tabernacle is to be made, he begins right a the center of the Tabernacle, right at the heart of this holy system, with the Ark of the Covenant, the only piece of furniture in the Most Holy Place within the Tabernacle. By beginning with the Ark, he gives great priority to his presence. This morning, we consider this central object, the Ark of the Covenant.
At the end of ch. 24, Moses ascended into the cloud of glory at the summit of Sinai. The first thing that Moses records the Lord speaking to him is that the people should take an offering: “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution.” This message is on Israel’s offering. This offering is significant theologically and practically.