Exodus 24:12-25:9; 40:1-38 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What does the Lord instruct His people to make for Him and why? See Exodus 25:8-9 (printed below)

Have them make a sanctuary for me, so that I may dwell among them. (9) You shall make this tabernacle and all its furnishing exactly like the pattern I will show you. (Exodus 25:8-9)

The Lord instructs His people to make a sanctuary, or tabernacle, for Him. This name (tabernacle) expresses the Lord’s desire to live among His people, rather than merely make occasional appearances as He did in the days of Abraham. The great King of glory desires to have His residence with us and to be our royal Neighbor. The sovereign Lord of heaven desires to be with us and be our Friend and Companion. The fact that the Lord’s dwelling place takes the form of a tent shows His willingness to completely identify Himself with us (Israel was living in tents, the Lord will do so also.) Here is a tremendous display of condescension and humility motivated by compassion and love (note John 1:14 and Hebrews 2:14a).

2. The tabernacle to be built for the Lord is called “a sanctuary.” What is the significance of this?

The term “sanctuary” indicates that it is a holy place because dwelling here is none other than the Holy One Himself: sin is an unacceptable practice within its holy precincts. Furthermore, it is the place of refuge because the Lord who dwells here invites us to find a safe and secure haven under His protective care: the enemies of our soul are not able to enter this sacred place (note Psalm 62:6-8.)

3. What piece of furniture to be housed in the tabernacle is mentioned in Exodus 25:10-11,16-22 (printed below?) Describe its construction and its location in the tabernacle. What do you think is the spiritual significance of this item?

Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high; (11) overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it… (16) Then put into the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. (17) Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. (18) And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. (19) Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. (20) The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. (21) Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. (22) There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commandments for the Israelites. (Exodus 25:10-11, 16-22)

note: a cubit equals approximately 18 inches or 0.5 meters

Contained within the tabernacle was the ark of the covenant, as described in Exodus 25:10-11,16-22. This was the focal point of the entire tabernacle: located within the Holy of holies, the ark was the earthly throne of God (the cherubim who adorned the ark are the throne attendants of the Lord). Placed on top of the ark was “an atonement cover,” or, “mercy seat” (literally, “the covering”) (Exodus 25:17-22). On the annual Day of Atonement the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sin offering upon the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:15). The tablets of the covenant were contained within the ark and the blood-sprinkled mercy seat served as the cover of the ark. The Lord thus demonstrates His desire for fellowship with His people by providing the means of atonement and reconciliation (note 1 John 2:1-2).

4. What piece of furniture is mentioned in Exodus 30:1-3,6-8 (printed below?) Where was it located? What do you think was its spiritual significance?

Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense. (2) It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high—its horns of one piece with it; (3) overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold molding around it… (6) Put the altar in front of the curtain that is before the ark of the Testimony—before the atonement cover that is over the Testimony—where I will meet with you. (7) Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. (8) He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before Jehovah for the generations to come. (Exodus 30:1-3, 6-8)

Another piece of furniture placed in the tabernacle was the altar of incense, described in Exodus 30:1-3, 6-8. This altar was placed immediately in front of the ark of the covenant, with only the curtain separating the two. Every day the priest was to burn incense upon this altar on behalf of the people. The fact that this was done at the hour of prayer (note Luke 1:9-10) shows that the altar with its burning incense was representing the prayers of God’s people that are precious to the Lord (note Proverbs 15:8b, “the prayer of the upright is the Lord’s delight.”)

5. What request did the Lord make of His people in Exodus 25:2 (printed below?) How did the people respond? See Exodus 35:20-29 (printed below)

Tell the children of Israel to bring me an offering. You shall receive the offering for me from every man whose heart makes him willing to give. (Exodus 25:2)

Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, (21) and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to Jehovah for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. (22) All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to Jehovah. (23) Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. (24) Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to Jehovah, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. (25) Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. (26) And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. (27) The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast piece. (28) They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. (29) All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to Jehovah freewill offerings for all the work Jehovah through Moses had commanded them to do. (Exodus 35:20-29)

For the construction of the tabernacle, the Lord instructs that a free will offering be taken from “every man whose heart makes him willing to give” (Exodus 25:2). The Lord desires to have fellowship with us, but if such fellowship is to actually take place, there must be a reciprocal desire for it on our part. We express that desire by willingly giving ourselves to the Lord; Exodus 35:20-29 describes Israel’s response to the Lord’s instruction. Four times in this passage (verses 21,22,26,29) it is reported that the people gave willingly, thereby expressing their desire to serve the Lord and have fellowship with Him.