Moses continues recording the different articles of the tabernacle. Through chapter 30, we are tempted to skim over this section as unimportant. However, these are important details because the Lord has commanded that the tabernacle is built in a particular manner, showing that we are not free to worship God in any way that we choose, but in the way in which He ordains.
Jesus continues His attack against Pharisaism by declaring woes upon them for their failure to rightly understand the Law and their hypocrisy. Jesus makes clear that His followers are not to follow Him in merely ritualistic observance, but with devotion grounded in sincere faith.
As Moses finishes describing the different articles, God reveals that He has provided for the construction of the tabernacle through the skilled workmanship of Bezalel and Oholiab. It is one thing for God to demand a tabernacle be built, it is something altogether different for Him to say, “I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship . . .” (31:3). It is also important to note that the Sabbath is reemphasized at this point, “as a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever,” marking them as the people of God.
Many people have wondered hard and long about how to interpret the signs of Christ’s return. Jesus warns that many difficult times will come for believers and finishes by saying, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (v. 14). While scholars debate, even the meaning of all the nations, perhaps we Christians should take the position of G.E. Ladd, who when reflecting on this saw it as an encouragement to the mission and said “I know only one thing: Christ has not yet returned; therefore the task is not yet done. When it is done, Christ will come. Our responsibility is not to insist on defining the terms of our task; our responsibility is to complete it. So long as Christ does not return, our work is undone. Let us get busy and complete our mission.” [Ladd The Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959), ch. 9, “When Will the Kingdom Come?”]
Even as Moses is on the mountain receiving instruction from the Lord, the people are below languishing in rebelling. While God took His people out of Egypt, taking Egypt out of His people would prove a much more challenging task. God warns that going with them might result in Him destroying them because of rebellion, something that He would do as He leads the people around the desert for forty years because of their rebellion.
Christ continues by pointing to the perilous times ahead for believers but also looks forward to His glorious return. Scholars debate the exact referents of this passage, but we do have the firm confidence that Christ will return. We should take our Lord’s statements seriously that “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (v. 36). Let us not be carried away in endless speculation as to days, but let us rest confidently in the surety of His coming.
As Moses receives the new tablets, we find the only place in Scripture where God declares His own nature and character in Exodus 34:6. He highlights His holiness and His grace, and in spite of their rebellion, God renews His covenant with His people. This event causes Moses face literally to shine. As the people are confronted with the glory of God and His commands for a tabernacle they begin contributing joyfully.
The next section of parables serves as a warning which Christians must diligently heed. While we do not know the day or hour, we are to be preparing for His coming so that we may be found fit for entrance into His kingdom. How terrible it will be for those who like the wicked slave and the unprepared virgins who were not ready for His coming and find themselves shut out of the Kingdom. Let us not do likewise.
The response of the people to the command from the Lord to build a tabernacle is so overwhelming that Moses commands them to stop making contributions. Such a peculiar command serves to highlight the people’s repentance before the holiness of the Lord.
The parable of the talents highlights the necessity of being good stewards of the gifts of God so that we are found to be faithful servants. From each, the Lord will require an accounting of what He has given. We are, therefore, to labor so that we may show a good return for the Master on His return.
Having recorded the obedience of the response of Israel to God’s command to contribute to the building of the tabernacle, Moses records that the craftsmen finish the pieces. “Just as the Lord had commanded Moses,” stands as the programmatic verse of chapter 39, highlighting a seeming change of heart among the people.
Jesus leaves no doubt that there will be those whom He welcomes into the kingdom and those who are left outside. Those who have been diligent about their Master’s business in reaching to the least of these will find themselves baffled on that day as they do not enter into His glory. At this point, the opposition to Jesus reaches a deadly pitch as the elders gather to conspire against Him.
As Moses erects the tabernacle, God’s glory descends upon it in a magnificent way. While we are sometimes tempted to dismiss the tabernacle as unimportant, they serve as physical representations of God’s dwelling among His people. This theme will take on an even greater importance in the New Testament as Jesus “dwells/tabernacles” among us (John 1:14).
The woman who pours out her expensive perfumes stands in contrast to Judas who seeks a means of betraying Jesus for financial gain. And while Jesus is acutely aware of this, He celebrates the Passover with His disciples. He, however, will fulfill the Passover as He absorbs the wrath of God for sin and cleanses His people through His blood.
For more information on the tabernacle visit http://the-tabernacle-place.com/articles/what_is_the_tabernacle.