Exodus 25-27 Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst

From Exodus 25-27

02 ExodusThe covenantal relationship between God and his people is taken as given. What is now required is the sanctification of the people through obedience to the terms of the law and a means of atonement for sin. In today’s reading we look at the ark of the covenant and the mercy seat.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

In these next few chapters the LORD gives Moses instructions for the construction of several important items which will be used through most of Israel’s history to worship the LORD.

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8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. (Gen 25.8-9)

Dwell in their midst‘. The tabernacle had huge importance for the Jewish people, because it was there that God was present with them.

10 “They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 12 You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony that I shall give you. (Gen 25.10-16)

‘Ark of acacia wood’, ‘Overlaid with gold’. The ark is to be the only item within the Most Holy Place. It is mentioned first of all the items associated with the tabernacle because it is the most important.

The ark is the focus of God’s presence with Israel. It is where heaven and earth meet.

‘Poles’. The ark is so holy it cannot be touched. Some have died by accident touching it (2 Sam 6.3-7). This is why the poles and rings are necessary to move it around.

17 “You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.

Holbein, H., 1947; 2009. Holbein’s Bible Woodcuts, Sylvan Press; New York, NY.

19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends.

20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.

21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. (Gen 25.17-22)

‘Mercy seat’. It is also known as the place of atonement and it describes the day of atonement. An annual ritual for atoning for Israel’s sin and maintaining their place before the LORD. This is also the place where the LORD will continue to reveal himself to Moses.

‘Cherubim’. Cherubim are a kind of angel. They are depicted throughout the tabernacle and they give a symbolic representation of God’s heavenly dwelling.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

We have seen that the tabernacle was an earthly representation of heavenly reality. It was a microcosm of the created order—hence, a microcosm of the only spotless point in creation, Eden. This is not to say, however, that the intended ideal was always met. It is fair to say that God’s great revelation in Exodus 25–40, the establishment of the tabernacle and the priesthood, became institutionalized over time. This state of affairs prompted prophetic critique. Relatively little is mentioned by the prophets about the tabernacle, the temple, and the priestly system. But what little there is, is critical of what these institutions had become (see Isa. 1:10–17; Hos. 6:6; Amos 5:21–24; Mic. 6:6–8; see also Ps. 40:6; 50:7–15; 51:16–17). (Enns, P., 2000. Exodus, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.)

Story of Jesus

In his gospel the apostle John writes;

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1.6-14)

The expression ‘dwelt among us’ (Jn 1.14) in the greek literally means ‘tabernacled among us’. The direct analogy of Exodus is unmistakable. The description of the tabernacle and the mercy seat point to Jesus. Jesus Christ is the person of God dwelling among his people. He is the one who died to make atonement for our sins.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.