Summary: Exodus 25-31 The Tabernacle
Last week we looked at God meeting with the Israelites on Mt Sinai. What was that meeting like? Was it a run-of-the-mill meeting? A nice, gentle affair? No – it was shock and awe! There was thick smoke and the whole of Mt Sinai shook violently. It was a scary experience and the Israelites were frightened – terrified - as well they should have been, because if any of them got too close to the presence of God on the mountain then they would die. Last week we looked at that terrible meeting of God with the Israelites at the mountain and we saw how far short of God’s standards that we come up to, that as sinful people – we have a problem when we come into contact with the perfect and holy God.
You know – one of the biggest problems we have in evangelism today is trying to convince people that they need Jesus. Why? – because they don’t think they need Jesus! Most people don’t think they need Jesus and what He did for us on the cross. Why? Because most people think they are already okay with God! They see God as some grandfatherly figure, as some cute and cuddly teddy bear in the sky. And most people also don’t think they are sinners – well, not real bad ones anyway. So people don’t see the distance there is between themselves and God. But just because they don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there!
Perhaps just a small example will help us see this. We’ve had a famous visitor to Australia recently. She only left yesterday – who was it? Yes – the Queen. Who got to meet with her? Who would have liked to have met with her? I remember in the 80s when I was a kid she visited Brisbane. We all went to the Queen St Mall to try and see her. Guess what? The crowds were to thick and we couldn’t even get close - we didn’t see her! Everyone wants to see her, but not everyone can. Why? She is royalty, she is separate to us. But every now and then of us ordinary people is privileged enough to meet with her or one of her family, and we find out that the royals are normal people, just like us.
But God is not a normal person just like the rest of us. He is holy, perfect. And so over 3000 years ago God met with the Israelites at Mt Sinai and told them that they would be His people and He would be their God. And He made a covenant – an agreement with them. But – there is a problem, because as we saw last week when we looked at what happened when God visited Israel on Mt Sinai - Shock and Awe. It was terrifying and the Israelites could not handle the presence of God. How was God to live among the Israelites if there was this great gulf in holiness between them? How was there to be a covenant - an agreement – between two such unequal parties? Well at the end of Exodus 24 God summons Moses to come up to the mountain, and Moses went up there for 40 days and nights and Moses met with God and God gave him instructions about how God was to dwell among the Israelites. Well let’s open to Exodus 25:8-9 (pg 65)
Exo 25:8 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.
The solution was the building of the tabernacle, which was a tent that the Israelites built and it was there that they worshipped God. And today we’ll be looking at this tabernacle and what it meant for the Israelites as well as what it means for us today. These two verses tell us a lot about the tabernacle. Firstly - it’s interesting to notice the two words used for the tabernacle. In verse 8 it is called a sanctuary: מִקְדָּשׁ - Michdash – which means a holy place. A special place which is holy. We’ve seen how God is holy – so therefore a place where God dwells is holy. And that’s where we get our English word sactuary from – a holy place. But unfortunately we often use the word “sactuary” in the wrong way. We tend to use the word “sanctuary” to describe a peaceful place. But that’s not what sactuary means in the Biblical idea of what a holy place is. We saw last week that God’s holiness is more about shock and awe than necessarily about peace! So this place – this holy place – was the place of the holy God. And why did God tell the Israelites to make Him a sanctuary – a holy place? Well we read in verse 8 - that I may dwell in their midst. Wow – this amazing, awesome God, the creator of the universe, was to dwell – that is, live among the Israelites in their midst! And then in verse 9 there is another word for this place: מִשְׁכָּן - Mishkan – which means dwelling place. It actually comes from the same word as “dwell” that we see in verse 8. That is – if you want to put verses 8 and 9 more literally in English it is something like: