There’s just something about the old days. No, not those old days. The old old days. The days way back before your grandparents were born; the days where black people were slaves and women wore corsets and didn’t go to school. There’s something about those days that makes them so easy to either romanticize or ridicule, and sometimes both. The powdered and wigged and corseted rich folk back then were so rich they didn’t know what to do with themselves, holding ridiculous parties and putting on airs that seem silly and almost childish to us now. They wasted so much money on so much nothing. We’re so above that these days, obviously.
But were the Israelites? This chapter describes what sounds like a lot of time, effort, and money – and for what, exactly? Well, that’s what God has personally called Moses up into the mountain to discuss. He explains that the Israelites are to donate materials to him to be used to build a tabernacle.
God explains that this tabernacle, also known as a sanctuary, is to be furnished very particularly. There will be an ark to hold God’s covenant law, the one that was ratified with the Israelites last chapter. There will be a cover for the ark, with golden cherubim on either side of it. There will be a table to hold bread and utensils for offerings. There will also be a lampstand with seven lamps. Each item is described in detail, even down to the dimensions. And there’s more instructions to come – it’s a good thing Moses took notes.
The Treasures Within:
What’s All This?
Gold and wood, skins and hair, yarn and spices. All these materials and more were to be collected to build a sanctuary to the Almighty God. If you knew of a community out in the wilderness making plans to build some shrine to their God, you would think they were insane, right? It’s true that just about every religion in those days did stuff like that, but we think all the rest of them were crazy or at least misguided, don’t we? What makes the Israelites so different?
Verse 8 instructs “have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.” Verse 22 promises “There, above the…ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you…” Verse 30 invites the people to prepare “this table [in the sanctuary] to be before me at all times.” The sanctuary the Israelites were going to build was not just a memorial to their God. It was not just a reminder of what they believed in. This was a place where the Creator of the universe, the Source of wisdom, the Definition of love would sit and remain and commune and dwell with His people. It was for God to be intimate with His children. It was a place where God would wrap His arms around His creation. This was no commonplace shrine. This was special. This was unique. This was holy.
If you’re thinking “…yeah, still sounds crazy”, I mean, that’s not surprising. After all, the things we do for God today, the things He asks us to do – they are just as crazy. Not having sex until marriage? Giving up part of our paycheck every month for tithe? Talking to Someone in the sky regularly? Basing our lives off of a Book written thousands of years ago? (You could probably go on!) Doing these things, being extra, going all out for God – it’s not always fun and definitely not popular. But we do it anyway. Why?
Some of us do it because of tradition, much like the women and men of eras past wearing corsets and wigs and fake moles. Some of us do it to check a box off of our to-do list, like 19th century women searching for a husband, any husband. But some of us do it because we believe that serving God, obeying God, and living for Him and Him alone is the only way to do life. That is the only correct reason. After all, if we’re spending so much energy on so much nothing, then we’re just being extra. But if what we believe is true, then no one can stop us from going all out for our Lord.
God’s Message To Us:
“I am worthy.” If God really did create the entire world – planets, cells, subatomic particles – then we should be willing to do anything for Him. If God really did save the Israelites from slavery and lead them through a whole body of water on solid ground, then we should be willing to do anything for Him. If God really did sacrifice His Son, allowing Him to die a brutal death on the cross instead of you and me, then we should be willing to do anything for Him. We love God and we obey Him and we worship Him because of who He is. And trust me, receiving Love this amazing? It’s more than enough to make anyone act a little extra.
What do you think? Do you find yourself being “extra” for Jesus? What do you think God wanted you to get out of this chapter?