Friday, November 18, 2022

2022.11.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 26:1–14

Read Exodus 26:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What are they to make for the covering of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1)? How many of them? Out of what primary material? And what threads? With what embroidered upon them? How long should each curtain be (Exodus 26:2)? How wide? How are they to be arranged (Exodus 26:3)? What should be made on the edges in order to connect them (Exodus 26:4)? How many loops per curtain (Exodus 26:5)? What are they to make for connecting the loops (Exodus 26:6)? Out of what? With what ultimate result (end of verse 6)? What other curtains are to be made (Exodus 26:7)? In how many sections now (cp. Exodus 26:1)? And what length now (Exodus 26:8, cp Exodus 26:2)? What does the extra curtain do (Exodus 26:9)? What assembly does this second set use (Exodus 26:10)? Of what are its clasps made (Exodus 26:11, cp. Exodus 26:6)? What are the extra two cubits of length for (Exodus 26:12-13)? What additional layers are there to be (Exodus 26:14)?

What do we learn from the style of covering of the tabernacle? Exodus 26:1–14 looks forward to the p.m. sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the tabernacle was a very mobile, temporary anticipation of glorious presence to come.

Mobile. With the descriptions of the furnishings completed, the theme of the mobility of God’s tent now takes center stage. Before moving out into the court, God’s design addresses the covering of the Holy of Holies and of the Holy Place. “Curtains” here is a word that primarily refers to tent coverings used by nomadic people. The people are going to be wandering, and God prepares to wander with them. 

Modular. In addition to a portable style of dwelling, the particular design is for very rapid setup and take down. The loops and the clasps on multiple four-cubit (6 ft) sections would enable very quick assembly/disassembly. God’s people must be ready to obey and move at a moment’s notice. 

Both of these aspects of the design remind us that this is not the final form of God’s dwelling with His people. This is a greatly gracious season in God’s dealings with man, but it is anticipating a greater season still. One day, God’s dwelling with man will be permanent, stable, persistent.

Majestic. The materials of these under-curtains are costly. The blue, purple, and scarlet thread employed rare dyes. The clasps are made of gold. The linen is both costly and also mirrors the ritually pure garments of the priesthood when they are on tabernacle duty. Embroidered into this “ceiling” would be cherubim. The candle-light shining on the linen, the gold, and the costly-thread embroidered cherubim would all convey heavenliness even upon the “ceiling” inside the tabernacle.

Multilayered. There are three more layers described here. The design of the next one is the same, except with one extra layer overlapping in the middle, a cubit extra length at each edge, and less expensive materials (goats’ hair for the curtains and bronze for the clasps). The next layer is ram skins dyed red. Skins are especially suited to keeping moisture out. The final layer would be especially so, since the word translated “badger” in our version is probably “dolphin.” These extra layers not only reinforce the separation from the outside world but preserve the more delicate inner layer.

God, Who made the heavens, describes doing so as “stretching them out like a curtain” in Psalm 104:2. He uses the same word there as we have here. The care and design that He commands to be put into the tabernacle reminds us that this is a copy of a true and heavenly reality. One day, the mobile and modular will be replaced not only with the stability of a stationary temple, but finally with the glorious permanence of the resurrected and returned Savior. And the declaration will be that “the tent of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God” (Revelation 21:3). 

In Whom are you now with God? How has He come to dwell with You? If God designed and maintained the picture of that dwelling in the tabernacle, what will He do with you?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for coming to dwell with Your people and bringing Your people to dwell with You. Forgive me for thinking little of Your presence. Preserve me and sanctify me by Your Spirit, until You bring me at last into the perfection that the tabernacle pictured, I ask through Christ, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH332 “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”

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