The Word Made Fresh
1“Moses,” the LORD said, 2“Tell the Israelites to bring me gifts. Receive from each one who wishes to give 3offerings of gold, silver and bronze; 4blue, purple, and crimson yarns; fine linen, goats’ hair, 5weathered skins of rams or other animals; acacia wood; 6lamp oil, spices for the anointing oil and incense; 7and onyx stones or other gems to be stitched into the linen apron and vest worn by the priests. 8Then have them make a meeting place for me so that I can be present with them. 9I will explain to you how to make my sanctuary and the furnishings it will contain.
10“Tell them to make a chest of acacia wood. It should be 45 inches long and 27 inches wide and deep. 11Overlay it with gold inside and out and fashion a gold molding around it. 12Cast four gold rings and attach them to the four feet of the chest. 13Then make two poles of acacia wood overlaid with gold 14and insert them through the rings on either side of the chest. The poles are for carrying the chest, 15and should be permanently attached to it. 16I will give you a written copy of the rules of my covenant relationship with you to place in the chest.
17“Make a lid of pure gold the length and width of the chest. 18Then craft of pure gold two cherubim to place at the ends of it. 19They should be cast as part of the golden lid, one at one end and one at the other end. 20The cherubim should have outspread wings stretching over the lid, and they should be facing one another. 21When I give you my laws, place them inside the chest, and lay the cover on top of it. 22That is where I will meet with you, Moses, from above the lid between the cherubim, and that is where I will give you all my laws for the Israelites.
23Also, make a table of acacia wood. Make it thirty-six inches long, eighteen inches wide, and twenty-seven inches tall. 24Cover it with pure gold and make a molding around the tabletop with gold. 25The tabletop should have a rim 4 inches wide with the gold molding around the rim. 26Make four golden rings and attach them to the corners of the tabletop, 27close to the edge, for holding carrying poles. 28The poles are for carrying the table and should be made of acacia wood overlaid with gold.
29Pure gold is to be used to fashion the plates and dishes for the incense, and bowls and pitchers for pouring the offerings of wine. 30The ‘bread of the presence’ is always to be placed on the table before me.
31“You shall also fashion a lampstand of pure gold. Shape the base and the shaft with the hammer and make the cups like flower petals. All of it should be of one piece. 32It should have six branches, three on each side of the central shaft. 33Each of the six branches should end with cups shaped like almond blossoms. 34On the main stem of the lampstand there should be four cups shaped like almond blossoms complete with sepals and petals of pure gold. 35And make certain each of the six branches also ends in a sepal and blossom of pure gold. 36All of it must be fashioned as one piece, hammered from pure gold. 37Finally, make seven lamps, one for each arm, to give light to the space in front of the lampstand. 38The snuffers and trays shall be made of pure gold. 39All of these should be fashioned from a full talent, 75 pounds, of pure gold. 40And make certain all these items are made according to the pattern being shown you on the mountain.”
1-9: God instructs Moses to receive an offering from the people to construct a sanctuary. Their offerings are to include the actual building materials of acacia wood, rams’ skins, and goats’ hair.
10-16: The first plans are not for the sanctuary, however, but for the ark that will contain the covenant that God has yet to give Moses. Note that the ark is designed from the outset to be a mobile container with carrying poles permanently attached.
17-22: The mercy seat is the lid that covers the ark. The cherubim are angelic beings with wings. They are to be positioned top of the mercy seat to form armrests and back support with their wings. The mercy seat is imagined as a throne for God. It is to be covered inside and out with pure gold; it appears the Israelites were not exactly poverty-stricken when they left Egypt.
23-30: Plans are given for the construction of a table that is to hold the plates, dishes, flagons, and bowls for burning incense, pouring libations, and the “bread of the presence” that is to be set daily before the ark to represent the sustenance they receive daily from God (our daily bread).
31-40: Plans are given for making the seven lamps and the lamp stand, ornately described, of pure beaten gold.
The elaborate plans described here have the purpose of setting Israel apart from all other nations. Other ancient peoples (Egyptians, Canaanites, etc.) who believed in other gods had similar rituals, but what is being described here is different enough to set Israel apart. The sacrifices and other rituals will define them as God’s people. In much the same way, the way we worship identifies us as belonging to Christ.