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Interior Design — Exodus Chapter 25

This blog post will cover the devotionals #149-176 for Exodus Chapter 25.

**Pictures will be added at a later date.

Please note that this devotional book WILL SOON be for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[#149] Exodus 25:1-9

Exodus 25-31 covers everything God discussed with Moses on the mountain, including the construction of the mobile sanctuary and those chosen to craft it, the priests’ garments and consecration into the service of the sanctuary, the census requirements, the anointing of the sanctuary and priests, and the services to be performed within the sanctuary. He wrapped up their visit with a third command to keep the Sabbath. Exodus 25:8, 9 tells us that God commanded Moses: “Let them make Me a sanctuary; so I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all its instruments, you must make it even so.” The actual services of the sanctuary aren’t mentioned / discussed until Leviticus, but they’re so central to the topic that they need to be addressed in our study of the sanctuary. Having an understanding of these services will allow us to better understand the details of the sanctuary’s structure, instruments, and purpose. Thus, several devotionals will be dedicated to laying out the purpose and symbolism of the sanctuary’s services. Throughout the next few chapters, we’ll break down the details God gave Moses—including their significance. God was very particular in every specification. After looking at the services in devotionals #150-155, we’ll dive into the structure itself by taking a look at where they were to get their materials for building the sanctuary. God told Moses to ask the children of Israel to bring Him a free-will offering (in other words, to give freely and willingly from their hearts). By petitioning His people for a large amount of precious, expensive materials, He was only asking that they return the gifts He had trusted them with—to provide the preparations for the sanctuary service. Despite the high demand, He only wanted offerings and assistance in the building of His dwelling place from those with a self-sacrificing spirit that were devoted to Him. God expects the same of those today who love worshipping Him and cherish His presence. No house of God should be finished with debt—a dishonor to Him. Enough should be freely given to complete the work. Yet, when we look at the skilled workmen (and those who descended from them) in Exodus 35, we’ll see how the work of God would be affected by selfish workmen who were devoted only to themselves. The materials needed were: (1) gold, silver, and brass, (2) blue, purple, scarlet, fine linen, and goat hair, (3) red-dyed rams’ skins, badger’s skins, and shittim wood, (4) oil (for the light) and spices (for the anointing oil and sweet incense), and (5) onyx stones and stones to set in the priests' ephod and breastplate. He requested these things from Israel, and then those who had the talents and willingness were requested to make a sanctuary and its instruments—according to God’s exact blueprints—so He could dwell among them (symbolizing 'God with us'). The instruments included interior and exterior furnishings. Inside the sanctuary was (1) the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:10-22), (2) the shewbread table (Exodus 25:23-30), (3) the golden lampstand (Exodus 25:31-40), and (4) the altar of incense (Exodus 30:1-6). Outside the sanctuary (in the court) was (5) the bronze altar (Exodus 27:1-8) and (6) the bronze basin (Exodus 30:17-21). Starting in devotional #156, we'll break down the purpose and significance of each element used.

[#150] Exodus 25:8,9 (Part 1)

There was / is a common idea that the earth is the sanctuary that’s referred to in the ‘cleansing of the sanctuary’ in Daniel 8:14, yet the Bible doesn’t support that. What it does explain fully is the topic of the sanctuary—much detail was given to clear any doubt about it. Paul discussed the tabernacle God commanded Moses to build (as an earthly dwelling place for Himself). Because Israel was traveling through the wilderness, they built it in a way that it could be moved from place to place. Even so, it was a magnificent structure. Once Israel settled in Canaan, it was replaced by Solomon’s temple, which was larger and permanent, yet kept the same proportions and similar furnishings. The sanctuary existed as such until the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD (except for when it laid in ruin in Daniel’s time). This is the only earthly sanctuary (Paul called it the sanctuary of the first (old) covenant) discussed in the Bible. What about a Sanctuary of the New Covenant? Paul’s usage of the words, ‘also’ and ‘worldly’, implied another sanctuary existed (Hebrews 9:1-5). “Then truly, the first covenant also had ordinances of divine service and a worldly sanctuary.” He’d previously mentioned this other sanctuary in Hebrews 8:1, 2. “We have such a High Priest, Who is sat on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; a Minister of the Sanctuary, and of the true Tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” Hebrews 8 clearly connects this Sanctuary to the New Covenant. So, the Sanctuary of the New Covenant was pitched by the Lord, and the sanctuary of the Old Covenant was pitched by man. The earthly priests did their service in the earthly sanctuary, and Christ (our great High Priest) ministers in the heavenly Sanctuary—at God’s right hand. Moses built the tabernacle based on the pattern of the actual one. The Lord (Who built the heavenly tabernacle) showed Moses its pattern (blueprints) in the mountain (as Exodus 25:9, 40 clearly states). What was the purpose of the ‘first’ (Old) Covenant tabernacle? In Hebrews 9:2, 23, 24, Paul said that it was “a figure for that time, in which both gifts and sacrifices were offered”; its holy places were “patterns of things in the Heavens”; its priests served as an “example and shadow of heavenly things”; and “Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us now.” Jesus ministers to God’s throne on our behalf in the Heavenly Sanctuary—the original copied by Moses to be an example. Those who built the earthly sanctuary were given God’s Spirit. Divine wisdom was manifested in its artistry. Its unparalleled magnificence allowed humanity to see just a faint reflection of the glory and immensity of the Heavenly Sanctuary—the dwelling place (temple) of the King, ministered to by a million angels and guarded by glorious, worshipful seraphim with veiled faces. Though it doesn’t compare, the earthly sanctuary and its ceremonies teach valuable truths about the Heavenly one and the important work done there to redeem mankind (which we’ll discuss in devotionals #151-155). John saw (in a vision) the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary. There were “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne” and an angel with “a golden censer; and he was given much incense, to offer it with the prayers of all saints on the golden altar which was before the throne” (Revelation 4:5; 8:3). In Revelation 11:19, he looked in the Most Holy Place, where he saw “the ark of His testament”. Thus, there’s indisputable Biblical proof that there’s a Heavenly Sanctuary. Moses’ sanctuary was made after a pattern God showed him, which Paul shows was the true, Heavenly Sanctuary, which John claimed he saw in vision.

[#151] Exodus 25:8,9 (Part 2)

The ministration in the earthly sanctuary had two parts, (#1) daily ministration by the priests in the Holy Place and (#2) yearly ministration by the high priest in the Most Holy Place. In the first part, repentant sinners were to daily bring their offerings to the tabernacle door, place their hand on the victim’s head, and confess their sins. This represented the transfer of their sin from themselves to the innocent sacrifice, which was then killed. Leviticus 17:11 says that “the life of the flesh is in the blood”. The transgression of God’s law required the sinner’s life. The victim bore the guilt of the sinner, whose forfeited life was represented by its blood. The priest carried this blood into the Holy Place and sprinkled it before the veil, which covered the ark containing the transgressed law. Sometimes the priests were to eat the flesh instead of taking the blood into the Holy Place. Moses told Aaron’s sons (in Leviticus 10:17), “God has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation.” These ceremonies symbolized the transfer of the sin to the sanctuary (through the blood). Because Israel’s sins were transferred to the sanctuary, a special work of atonement (called the cleansing of the sanctuary) was needed to remove them from each of the sacred apartments (see Leviticus 16:16, 19). This was the second part of the sanctuary ministration. On the Day of Atonement, the priest entered the Most Holy Place to complete the yearly ministration cycle. Two goat kids were brought to the tabernacle door, and lots were cast on them (verses 8-10). “One lot for the Lord…offer him for a sin offering”, “and the other lot for the scapegoat…presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness”. The Lord’s goat was a sin offering for the people, whose blood would be brought within the veil and sprinkled on and before the mercy seat, as well as on the altar of incense before the veil. The live goat (scapegoat) would have Israel’s sins confessed over him by Aaron (putting their sins on his head) and be led by a fit man into the wilderness to bear their iniquities to an uninhabited land, never to return to Israel’s camp (verses 21, 22). The fit man had to wash himself and his clothes with water before returning to camp. This service showed them God’s holiness and hatred for sin, and also that they couldn’t come in contact with sin without being polluted. As the work of atonement took place, every man was to afflict his soul—lay aside all business and spend the day in solemn humiliation before God—in prayer, fasting, and deep heart-searching. This symbolic (typical) service taught important truths about atonement. (#1) Though a substitute was accepted in place of the sinner, the victim’s blood didn’t cancel their sin. Thus, a way was made to transfer the sin to the sanctuary. (#2) By offering the blood, the sinner acknowledged the authority of God’s law, confessed his guilt, and expressed desire to be pardoned through his faith in a coming Redeemer—but he wasn’t yet entirely free from condemnation. (#3) The high priest went into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement with the blood of the offering from the congregation, and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, directly above the law, to satisfy its claims. (#4) The high priest then acted as a mediator, taking the sins on himself and away from the sanctuary. He placed his hands on the scapegoat’s head and confessed all the sins over him—symbolically transferring them from himself to the goat. (#5) Then the goat carried the sins away, a symbol of them being separated from the people forever. These services were performed as “the example and shadow of Heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5)—meaning that what was done in the earthly sanctuary services is done in the Heavenly Sanctuary ministration.

[#152] Exodus 25:8,9 (Part 3)

When Christ ascended to Heaven from His disciples’ sight, they followed Him (by faith) into the Holy Place (where He began working as our High Priest) and centered their hopes there. Hebrews 6:19, 20 says, “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil; where the Forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, made a High Priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” We’re told in Hebrews 9:12, 24 that, “Not by the blood of goats and calves but by His own blood, He entered once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us…Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true; but into Heaven itself, to appear in the presence of God for us now.” Christ’s work was represented by the priests’ daily ministration throughout the year in the first apartment (the Holy Place) of the sanctuary, within the veil (the door and separation of this apartment from the outer court). The sins of the people were placed on the sin offering by faith and symbolically transferred through its blood to the earthly sanctuary. Likewise, the sins of the repentant are placed on Christ (the sin offering) and literally transferred through His blood to the Heavenly Sanctuary. Their work was to present the blood of the sin offering before God, and the ascending incense mingled with Israel’s prayers—which represented what Christ did in pleading His blood before the Father on our behalf, as well as presenting our prayers mingled with the precious fragrance of His righteousness before Him. The prophecy of Zechariah 6:12, 13 reveals Christ’s work as our Intercessor. See the Man Whose name is The Branch; and He will grow up out of His place, and He will build the temple of the Lord: even He will build the temple of the Lord; and He will bear the glory, and will sit and rule on His throne; and He will be a priest on His throne: and the counsel of peace will be between Them both.” Christ is the Foundation and Builder of God’s church through His sacrifice and mediation. As Ephesians 2:21, 22 says, He is “the Chief Cornerstone, in Whom all the building—fitly framed together—grows into a holy temple in the Lord: in Whom you are also built together as a dwelling place for God through the Spirit.” God’s throne is established in righteousness and judgment in the Heavenly Temple (God’s dwelling place). The love of both the Father and Son (the counsel of peace between Them both) is our salvation. John 16:26, 27; 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 5:19 tell us that the Father loved us so much that He gave His Son so all who believe could have everlasting life, and thus, He was “in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself”. Christ is now sitting as a priest with the Father in His Father’s throne (Zechariah 6:13 and Revelation 3:21). “He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), and “was tempted in all points like we are, yet is without sin” (Hebrews 4:15), so He could “help those that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18). Thus, as 1 John 2:1 says, “if any man sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Christ’s intercession is His broken body and spotless life. His wounded hands and feet and pierced side plead for those whose redemption was purchased at an infinite cost to both the Father and Son. The glory of our redemption is Christ’s. “Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:5, 6)

[#153] Exodus 25:8,9 (Part 4)

In devotional #150, we saw that people wrongly believe(d) that the Sanctuary refers to the earth. Sincere studiers in the 1800s believed that the 2300-day prophecy of Daniel 8:14 (‘then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed’) refers to Christ’s return to Earth and the destruction of the wicked. Thus, they experienced what is known as ‘the great disappointment’. The symbolic (‘typical’) service (aka, the ministration in the earthly sanctuary) ended at Christ’s death, so when the 2300 days ended on October 22, 1844, the earthly (Old Covenant) sanctuary hadn’t existed for centuries—meaning that the prophecy (‘then shall the Sanctuary be cleansed’) referred not to the earthly sanctuary (or the earth itself), but to the Heavenly (New Covenant) Sanctuary. So, what is the ‘cleansing of the Sanctuary’? We saw how the Old Testament shows that this type of service existed in relation to the earthly sanctuary, but what would need to be cleansed in Heaven? Both cleansings are taught in Hebrews 9:22, 23. “By the law, almost all things are purged with blood; and no remission is without bloodshed. Therefore, it was necessary for the patterns of things in the Heavens to be purified with these; but the Heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” In other words, both in the symbolic and real service, the cleansing has to be accomplished with blood. In the symbolic (earthly) service, the peoples’ sins were placed by faith on the sin offering (animal) and transferred through its blood, symbolizing the sins of the repentant being placed on Christ by faith and transferred through His blood to the Heavenly Sanctuary. The work of the Sanctuary is remission (the putting away) of sin—which can’t happen without the shedding of blood. Christ’s ministration in the first apartment of the Heavenly Sanctuary continued for eighteen centuries. His blood, pleaded on behalf of repentant believers, ensured their pardon and acceptance by the Father, but the record books still retained their sins. Just as we saw the work of atonement done to end the earthly ministration year, Christ’s work of redemption can’t be completed until the work of atonement is done to remove the sins from the Heavenly Sanctuary. The cleansing of the earthly sanctuary was done by the removal of the sins that polluted it, symbolizing the removal (or blotting out) of sins recorded in the Heavenly Sanctuary. This is what began at the end of the 2300 days foretold by Daniel 8:14 (“Unto two thousand three hundred days; then the Sanctuary will be cleansed) and the first angel’s message of Revelation 14:7 (“Fear God, and give Him glory; because the hour of His judgment has come”). It was then that Christ, our High Priest, passed from the Holy Place, entering into the Most Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary to do the last part of His solemn work—cleansing the Sanctuary. Leviticus 16:17 shows that nobody could be in the Holy Place when the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place for the atonement. Thus, when Christ passed from the first apartment to the second, He ended His ministration in the first and started His new ministration in the second. However, before the cleansing of the Sanctuary can be finalized, there is an especially important event that must take place, which we’ll discuss in devotional #154.

[#154] Exodus 25:8,9 (Part 5)

Before the cleansing of the Sanctuary can be finalized, the record books (that still retain the sins) must be examined to determine who’s entitled to the benefits of Christ’s atonement (by their repentance for sin and by faith in Him). Thus, the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary involves an investigation—a judgment—which must be performed before Christ returns to redeem His people and reward all according to their works written in the record books (see Revelation 22:12). Daniel 7:13 foretells the event: “The Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.” Malachi 3:1 also foretells it: “The Lord, Whom you seek, will come suddenly to His temple, even the Messenger of the Covenant, Whom you delight in.” It was sudden in the sense that His people in 1844 didn’t expect Him to go to the Heavenly Most Holy Place, but to come to Earth in vengeance (see 2 Thessalonians 1:8)—hence their misunderstanding of the event of Daniel 8:14. Preparation’s still being made for us. If we track Christ (by faith) in His ministration in the Heavenly Sanctuary, we’d understand our duty to warn and instruct—as Malachi 3:2, 3 says, “Who can bear the day of His coming? And who will stand when He appears? Because He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, so they may offer an offering to the Lord in righteousness.” When Christ’s intercession in the Heavenly Sanctuary ends, those alive on the earth will have to be able to stand in the sight of a holy God without a Mediator. This means that they must have spotless robes—characters that have been purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. By God’s grace, and their diligence, they must conquer their battle with evil. Remember from devotional #151, we learned that, as the work of atonement took place, every Hebrew was to afflict his soul—lay aside all business and spend the day in solemn humiliation before God—in prayer, fasting, and deep heart-searching. This represents how God’s people must simultaneously be undergoing purification—putting away sin—while the cleansing of the Sanctuary and investigative judgment is taking place in Heaven (see also Revelation 14). Once this work has been completed, we’ll be ready for Christ’s return to Earth (see Malachi 3:5 and Jude 14, 15). It’s a completely separate ‘coming’ / event. Ephesians 5:25-27 tells us that the church, which our Lord is to receive to Himself at His coming, will be “a glorious church, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but…it should be holy and without blemish” (see also Malachi 3:4 and Songs 6:10). This event is also foretold in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25), as the coming of the bridegroom to the marriage (which we’ll look at in devotional #155). Do you remember what happened at the end of the cleansing on the Day of Atonement? While the sin offering symbolized Christ as a sacrifice, and the high priest represented Him as our mediator, the scapegoat symbolized Satan—the author of sin—upon whom the sins of the repentant will ultimately be placed. As the high priest symbolically removed the sins from the sanctuary due to the blood of the sin offering, and placed them on the scapegoat, Christ will likewise remove the sins of all repentant sinners from the Heavenly Sanctuary (the record books), due to His blood, and place them on Satan at the close of His ministration. When the judgment is finally executed, Satan must be the one to bear the final penalty for sin. As the scapegoat was banished to an uninhabited land, never to return to Israel, so will Satan be forever banished from the presence of God and us—to be blotted from existence in the final destruction of sin (and those who clung to it).

[#155] Exodus 25:8,9 (Part 6)

I said we’d look at the Matthew 25 parable of the ten virgins. The virgins that go out to meet the bridegroom represent the church. They won't be present personally for the marriage because it’ll happen in Heaven while they’re on Earth, waiting for Him to return from the wedding (Luke 12:36). The five wise virgins were ready with oil in their lamps and entered the wedding with Him before the doors were shut. They represent those who know the truth and have God’s Spirit and grace (searching the Bible for more clarity while patiently waiting amid their trial). They learn, understand, and accept the truths of the Heavenly Sanctuary and Christ’s work, and follow Him by faith as He enters before God to do His final work of mediation. This is followed by the marriage (which represents Christ receiving His kingdom from the Ancient of Days (see Daniel 7:14 and Revelation 21:2)). The bride (or ‘Lamb’s wife’) represents the Holy City (the New Jerusalem)—the kingdom’s capital and representative (see Revelation 21:9, 10). Once He receives His kingdom in Heaven, He will come to redeem His people, who will “sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven” to partake of the Lamb’s marriage supper (see Matthew 8:11 and Luke 22:29, 30). Revelation 19:9 says God’s people are the marriage supper guests (not the bride). The coming of the bridegroom took place before the marriage in the parable. The Matthew 22 parable introduces the same symbol of the marriage, and the investigative judgment clearly takes place before the marriage. The King first comes in to inspect the guests to see if they have the proper wedding attire—the spotless robe washed in the Lamb’s blood. This represents how those who are examined and determined to have a righteous, sinless character are accepted by God and deemed worthy to take part in His kingdom and sit on His throne. Those that lack what’s required are cast out (see Matthew 22:11-14 and Revelation 7:14). This is the investigative judgment (the closing work in the Heavenly Sanctuary)—examining the character of all men, to determine who's prepared for God’s kingdom. Once this work's done, and those across history who’ve claimed to be Christians have been examined and sealed, then probation will finally close, and the door of mercy will be shut (as the wedding doors closed before the five foolish virgins). We trace Christ’s final service to the end of the work of Salvation. Those who track Christ by faith in His incredible work of atonement are benefitted by it—those who reject the truth of the Sanctuary and His work can’t. We can see this is the case by looking at the Jews who rejected the truth and refused to believe He was the Savior. His death was to pardon all, but not all will receive it (like those Jews). When Jesus entered the Heavenly Sanctuary at His ascension, they were left in darkness because they couldn’t follow Him there by faith. Thus, they continued doing the sacrifices and offerings in vain (recall that symbolic ministration ended when Christ died—and they could no longer access / commune with God as they used to). The earthly sanctuary service was now pointless—as they could now only find Him in the Heavenly Sanctuary. Without a knowledge of Christ as the Sacrifice and sole Mediator before God, they couldn’t be blessed by His mediation. This is exemplary of the condition of the professed Christians who choose to remain ignorant of our High Priest’s work. Remember that, on the Day of Atonement, when the High Priest entered the Most Holy Place, all of Israel was required to gather around and solemnly humble themselves before God, to be forgiven and not cut off. No less is expected of us today as Christ works in the true Day of Atonement.

[#156] Exodus 25:3 (Part 1)

Let’s look at the use of the metals. The gold would be used in the construction of every aspect of the sanctuary (and its furniture) except for the courtyard and the bronze altar and basin. The silver would be used in the structure of the tabernacle and courtyard, and in the veil within the sanctuary. The brass would be used in the structure of the tabernacle and courtyard, the tabernacle’s door hanging, and the bronze altar and basin. It's interesting that gold is only used inside the tabernacle, and brass is only used outside (especially when we learn what the different instruments and ceremonies symbolize), while silver is used in both places. ‘Gold’, shows up in the Bible 417 times. ‘Gold’ and ‘silver’ are seen together in 164 verses, and ‘gold’, ‘silver’, and ‘brass’ all appear together in twenty-five verses. As we saw with ‘sapphire’ in devotional #147, Strong’s Concordance points out other aspects of these colored metals. ‘Gold’ means ‘shimmer’ and ‘a clear sky’ (or ‘fair weather’). ‘Silver’ means ‘pale’ (or ‘pine after’) and ‘to fear’ (or ‘desire’, ‘long’, ‘be greedy’, ‘sore’). ‘Brass’ (copper / bronze) means ‘fetter’ (‘a chain or shackle for the feet’ or ‘something that confines’ / ‘restraint’) and ‘filthiness’. Brass is considered ‘base’ compared to gold and silver. The city of God will have streets of gold, where it’ll always be day and good weather. Gold shimmers, and you can see a clear reflection in it. God wanted to dwell among His people—and His presence could be ‘seen’ in the sanctuary / tabernacle. Gold is commonly understood to represent divinity in the Bible. Silver is a fine metal, but pales in comparison with gold—it ‘longs to be like gold’. Silver was the type of money that Jesus was betrayed for—so you could say precious gold was given up for mere silver. Brass is the lowest in value among the three, and represents filth and slavery—both of which Israel had just come from in Egypt (physically and spiritually). The sanctuary’s symbolism had to do with the cleansing and liberation from sin—it wasn’t welcome to stay inside the dwelling of God. Notice how the great statue from King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was made of multiple materials. Daniel 2:32, 33 shows that the head was made of gold, the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet of iron mixed with clay. Notice that the further down you go in the statue (which represented kingdoms that would have their turn at being a world empire), the baser the metals / materials become. Yet, verses 34 and 35 show that a stone (which, unlike every other material, wasn’t cut or crafted by man) struck the image on its feet, breaking them, along with the rest of the statue, into pieces, which became chaff to be carried away by the wind. This stone wasn’t a worldly empire, but the Kingdom of God. Only God could make even the most precious of metals as if they were nothing. Interestingly, Numbers 31:22 shows that certain things could be purified by fire: gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead—and we saw the significance of God as a consuming fire (in devotional #148) for the refining, washing, purging, and purifying of the precious metals. Having gold in the sanctuary was significant, but not as significant as having the presence of God Himself there. What God was doing in that place was to make sinful man purer than the finest gold, as Isaiah 13:12 says: “I will make a man more precious than fine gold”. Jeremiah 31:33 says, “I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they will be My people.” And how valuable is having His law in our hearts? Psalm 119:72 says, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.” Once God’s chosen people were reached, then He could use them to reach others, as we’ll see in devotional #157.

[#157] Exodus 25:3 (Part 2)

Matthew 10:5-15 shows Christ’s instructions to His disciples about not bringing extra provisions for themselves because the people should provide for them in response to the work they’re doing. They were to find out who was worthy in each town they visited and stay with them until they left for the next city. If they weren’t worthy, or didn’t receive / hear them, then they were to keep their peace, depart the house / city, and shake the dust off their feet. In this particular mission, Christ told them that they weren’t to visit the Gentiles or Samaritans, but rather, the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Recall, from devotional #156, how the stone that demolished the statue representing the different world empires was symbolic of the Kingdom of God? When the disciples visited Israel, they were to preach “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” to show how God was offering them something precious—Salvation. They were also to do miracles (heal the sick, resurrect the dead, and cast out demons). Thus, Israel was the first to receive the precious gifts of mercy, love, and truth. Matthew 10:9 says, “Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses.” It’s interesting that He specified ‘gold, silver, and brass’ when He could’ve just said ‘money’. Strong’s Concordance defines the words used in this context a little differently than the ones we saw in devotional #156. ‘Gold’ is defined as ‘to handle’, ‘to furnish what is needed’, ‘to employ or act towards one in a given manner’, and ‘entreat’ or ‘use’. This really seems to support the idea that Jesus was conveying about not providing for yourself (or ‘handling’ it yourself). Christ never used His divine power to help or provide for Himself. Likewise, He wanted His disciples not to use the gifts He gave them for themselves, but for the salvation of others: “freely you have received; freely give”. ‘Silver’ is defined as ‘shining’. Israel (in a general sense) had kept the precious light of truth to themselves—believing they exclusively had the rights to such an honor / blessing. Christ had to show them that they were no better or more worthy than the other nations—and in fact, they needed more work than some of the others. In Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus preached that they are the light of the world, a city on a hill can’t be hidden, and a lit candle isn’t hidden under a bushel (but is used to light the whole house), so He instructs His people to: “Let your light shine thus before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” Christ wasn’t referring to the type of ‘shining’ that the Pharisees would do through their public acts of self-righteousness, but to the selflessness in sharing the precious truth with everyone—in faith and deed (see also 2 Corinthians 3:1-6). ‘Brass’ is defined as ‘hollowing out—as a vessel (since brass was used mainly for that purpose)’ and ‘to lower—as into a void’. It seems fitting that this definition shows how they were to be made empty, so Christ could fill them—and others through them. There are many stories throughout Scriptures that show empty vessels being filled by God for His glory (the destitute Hebrews didn’t leave Egypt empty-handed, Gideon’s army had empty pitchers to conceal the lamps in their hands, Elisha had the broke widow borrow empty vessels for oil, Jesus filled the empty purification pots with wine for the wedding in Cana, etc.). This is what Christ wants to do with us, even today—if we’ll let Him. Psalm 51:10 says, “Create a clean heart in me, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: because they will see God.” If we have pure hearts, we will see God reflected there. Psalm 24:3-5 says, “Who will ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who will stand in His Holy Place? He that has clean hands, and a pure heart…he will receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.”

[#158] Exodus 25:4 (Part 1)

Strong’s Concordance shows that ‘blue’ refers to the ‘cerulean mussel’—the color (violet) obtained from it or stuff dyed with it’. It also references ‘peeling off by concussion of sound’, or ‘a scale or shell—the aromatic mussel (onycha)’. We’ll discuss ‘onycha’ in Exodus 30:34. Cerulean (or Caerulean) is a shade of blue ranging from azure to darker sky-blue. Cerulean derives from the Latin word, ‘Caeruleus’ (meaning ‘dark blue, blue, blue-green (turquoise))—likely derived from ‘Caerulum’ or ‘Caelum’, which means ‘heaven’ or ‘sky’. This reminds me of the significance of sapphire (the gem which is also an azure / sky-blue color) we looked at in devotional #147: In the sapphire’s clearness (‘purity’ or ‘brightness’) was the body (‘substance’ or ‘strength’) of heaven (the ‘sky’). Some believe the dye was derived from the secretions of a sea snail (‘Murex Trunculus’)—and manipulating its chemistry through light gave the range of colors between dark purple and sky-blue. The process for obtaining this was involved, so this pigment is very expensive. Blue garments were given to people of royalty, high position, or great importance, as seen by the king’s honoring of Mordecai (in Esther 8:15), or the Assyrian captains and rulers (in Ezekiel 23:5, 6). Fabrics dyed with this color were worn and traded throughout the Mediterranean, but once the Roman period began, only the emperor could wear it. Because the blue (violet) pigment’s so expensive (even today), only the kings and super rich could afford to wear garments dyed in it, so most just dyed the trim in the purple. Thus, it’d make sense (because Israel was called a nation of kings, priests, and prophets), that God would have them trim their garments this way. Israelites were to attach a ribbon of ‘tekhelet’ (the Hebrew word for the color) to the corner fringes (called ‘tzitzit’ in Hebrew) of their ‘tallits’ (prayer shawls) to constantly remind them of their special relationship with God. Numbers 15:37-41 shows God telling Moses to have them make these fringes in their garments to attach a blue ribband to in order to remember / obey God’s commandments and to know that God brought them out of Egypt to be their God. It was also remind them to be holy and not seek after the lusts of their own hearts / eyes. Having the ribbon didn’t directly impact their health (since God would only bless them through obedience)—but it’d prevent them from mingling with the nations and consuming unclean / unhealthy foods and drinks. How would these ribbons remind them of God’s law? They were to embroider a concise version of the ten commandments on the ribbon. ‘Ribband’ is fittingly defined by Strong’s Concordance as ‘to twine’ or ‘be bound’, and ‘to struggle / wrestle (morally, with self)’. Seeing this color and these words in this manner would remind them that they’re bound to God and that they must wrestle against sin and self. The blue ribbons remind worshipers of the sea / water (representing life—see John 4:13, 14 and Revelation 21:6), the sky / heavens, and God’s throne (which, in devotional #147, we also mentioned is sapphire). The blue of the tallit and tzitzit also symbolize prayer and God’s commandments (see Numbers 15:38 and Deuteronomy 22:12), and healing / cleansing (see Matthew 9:21). These all connect back to what we see in the Sanctuary—the water basin, the mercy seat, the incense, the ten commandments written on the tablets inside the ark, and the entire process of cleansing of sin. Thus, while the color represented their spiritual royalty, it was also intended to keep them humble before God and man.

[#159] Exodus 25:4 (Part 2)

Like blue, red was an expensive dye from a creature. Scarlet first appears in Genesis 38:28, when Judah’s first twin had a scarlet thread tied around his wrist. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘scarlet’ as ‘crimson (the insect or its color)’ or ‘the stuff dyed with it’. The Exodus 25:4 ‘scarlet’ includes that definition, and one that clarifies: ‘a voracious maggot (specifically the crimson grub) or worm’. It also references ‘to blurt or utter inconsiderately—to devour’. There’s something incredibly significant about the use of ‘worm’ in the context of scarlet / crimson (a deep red—the color of blood). The word commonly used in Hebrew for worm is ‘rimmah’ (‘maggot or worm’), but another word appears in Psalm 22:6, ‘towla’ or ‘tolaath’—the term used in relation to the red we’re discussing. Thus, that worm is specifically the crimson worm (which is common to the Middle East, especially in Israel). Let’s look at the spiritual significance of this worm. In Psalm 22, which Christ quoted on the cross when He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”, it shows a man crying to God, Who doesn’t save him as He saved his forefathers who trusted in Him. He then calls himself a worm (not a man)—who is reproached, despised, and scorned by the people. The lifecycle of the crimson worm (‘Coccus Ilicis’ or ‘Kermes Ilicis’) points to Christ’s work on the cross. When it’s time for the mother worm to lay her eggs, she climbs up a tree or wooden post and attaches to it (Christ allowed Himself to be nailed to the cross). Once that happens, a hard, crimson shell forms and secures itself so strongly that it could only be removed from the wood by tearing apart (and killing) the worm’s body (nothing could make Christ come down from the cross before His work was completed). She then lays her eggs beneath her body under the shell. Once the larvae hatch, they stay there, under the protective shell, feeding on the mother’s living body for three days, until they’re ready to care for themselves (Christ was in the tomb for three days). Then she dies, excreting a crimson / scarlet dye that stains the wood and her babies—who stay that color their whole life, hence the name (Christ’s death / blood had an eternal impact on His own body and His children’s life). On the fourth day, her tail pulls up into her head, creating a heart (Christ’s head bowed in His death of love). People also used the crushed worm to make heart medicine (Christ's death healed our hearts from sin). The worm’s body turns from crimson to snow-white, and the wax looks like wool on the wood, which flakes off and falls like snow (Christ’s blood makes our sins white as snow). Otherwise, their bodies were scraped from the wood and pulverized for dye (Satan wanted to remove Christ from the cross to pulverize His plan of Salvation). The grub-like worms were round and small like a pea, and were mistaken by many for something different (Christ didn’t seem like a God or King, so the people thought He was merely a man). Maybe by now, you’ve thought of Isaiah 1:18, which says, “…though your sins are like scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” See also Psalm 51:7. In Revelation 7:13-17, one of the elders said that those dressed in white robes came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. And the Lamb will feed them and lead them to living fountains of water. Like the baby worms eat the body and blood of the mother worm, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 shows Jesus and the last supper, where He gave the famous line, “Take, eat. This is My body, which is for you: do this in remembrance of Me…this cup is the new testament in My blood: as often as you drink it, do this in remembrance of Me. Because as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you preach the Lord’s death until He comes.”

[#160] Exodus 25:4 (Part 3)

In devotional #159, we saw some significance with the color red, but we’ll look closer at that in devotional #163, when we look at the rams’ skins dyed red. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘purple’ more simply than ‘blue’ in the same verse: ‘purple (the color or the dyed stuff)’. Unlike ‘blue’, ‘purple’ does appear in the New Testament, where Strong’s Concordance references the ‘purple mussel’ (likely referring to the same Cerulean (blue) mussel we looked at in devotional #158). Several of these passages discuss the old purple robe and crown (of thorns) they temporarily put on Jesus before His crucifixion—where they paraded Him as a so-called king, hailing and mocking Him. They used purple in this disrespectful scene because the color represents royalty (along with wealth and power). In Acts 16:11-15, we see the conversion of the woman, Lydia, who sells purple cloth. Here, Strong’s Concordance also references another definition related to purple (‘poleho’ or ‘pelomai’): ‘to be busy’, ‘to trade’, ‘barter (as a pedlar)’, ‘to sell’. I can’t help but think of how the King of kings was sold (by His disciple, Judas) and traded (by His people, the Jews) for a barbaric prisoner, Barrabas—whose name means ‘arrogancy, excellency, majesty, pomp, pride, etc.’ How ironic it is that his name coincides with typical human royalty, while the truly royal Jesus was the exact opposite—humble in every sense. Interestingly, the great harlot and the symbolic city of Babylon (discussed in Revelation 17:3, 4; 18:12, 16) wears purple and scarlet, but not blue (the only three verses in the Bible where this combination of colors excludes blue), and how this shows a symbolic relationship between blue and God. Red symbolizes (among other things) self-righteousness. Isaiah 64:6 mentions that our righteousness is as filthy rags (referred to by Strong’s Concordance essentially as menstrual pads—the garments soiled with the woman’s monthly blood flow). Purple represents wealth and power. So, the usage of scarlet (red) and purple in Revelation has to do with self-righteousness and the corruption of wealth and power. The word ‘blue’ is mentioned fifty times in Scriptures (all in the Old Testament)—thirty-four of which are in Exodus 25-39 (all discussing the Sanctuary). Of course, there are also other references to blue without using the word, as we see in the gemstones (like sapphire, turquoise, etc.). Scarlet / crimson show up a total of fifty-seven times (red appears fifty-three times). Purple shows up in the Bible forty-eight times. Purple and blue appear together in thirty-three verses, twenty-six of which also include scarlet (and all mentions of the three colors together appear only in the book of Exodus). The blue, purple, and scarlet would all be used in the tabernacle’s curtains and its interior veil, as well as in the hangings of the tabernacle’s door and courtyard’s gate. All of the incredible symbols we learned about these three colors would be represented in the cloths used throughout the Sanctuary. Most importantly, these three colors include the result (purple) of the blending of two of them (blue and red)—and Christ is a blend of the three (which represent different facets of who He is). Blue always appears first, and is superior—representing Heaven—Christ as the Son of God (and fully God and eternal). Purple always appears second—representing royalty—Christ as King of kings. Red (scarlet / crimson) always appears third—representing man and blood—Christ as the Son of Man (and fully human).

[#161] Exodus 25:4 (Part 4)

Linen appears 104 times in the Bible. Fifty-one verses specify fine linen. Strong’s Concordance defines fine linen as ‘white (bleached) linen’ or ‘silk (from the cocoon)’. As we saw with the costly dyed clothing, fine linen was commonly worn by people of wealth and rank. When Christ was taken down from the cross and prepared for the tomb, His body was wrapped in fine linen. Strong’s Concordance references this linen to ‘byssos’, which is defined as ‘linen made of byssus (a species of Egyptian flax)—very costly, delicate, soft, white (and also of a yellow color)’. Linen is incredibly strong, absorbent, and fast-drying—making it a comfortable choice for clothing in hot weather. Linen textiles are likely some of the oldest in the world, and are considered high-end, elegant, and durable. For many of these reasons, linen is preferred over cotton. Revelation 19:8 makes it very clear what this fine linen represents. “And it was granted to her to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: because the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” This righteousness of the saints is the same white robe of righteousness that Adam and Eve wore in their innocence in Eden—perfectly conformed to God’s will. This robe of light symbolized their spiritual garments of Heavenly innocence. We discussed this in Genesis devotionals #17 and 20. In Revelation 3:18, God counsels us: “buy a white garment from Me, so that you might be clothed, and the shame of your nakedness would not appear.” And Revelation 16:15 says that “he who watches and keep his garments is blessed—otherwise, he walks naked and they will see his shame.” Furthermore, Job 29:14 says, “I put on righteousness and it clothed me,” and Isaiah 61:10 says, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord…for He has clothed me with the garments of Salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness.” This is Christ’s righteousness—His spotless character. This righteousness is bestowed upon all that accept Him as their Savior. Just as fine linen was woven by the skilled hands of craftsmen, the royal robes of righteousness are woven in Heaven’s loom. It seems fitting, then, that the fine linen would be used in the Sanctuary with the blue, purple, and scarlet dyes, but also in the courtyard’s structure. As we saw the crimson robes being washed white with Christ’s blood (in devotional #160), the relevance of fine linen being used in the very place where sins were symbolically cleansed is unmistakable.

[#162] Exodus 25:4 (Part 5)

Song of Solomon 4:1; 6:5 refers to Solomon’s bride’s hair as a flock of goats from Mount Gilead. If you’ve read any of the passages from that romantic book, you know that this reference is a compliment. Thus, we can automatically assume that goat hair is something to be desired. Some goat hair is called ‘mohair’ (or simply, ‘fiber’, depending on the goat species), and like linen, goat hair fibers are used in some of the oldest fabrics in the world—forming a significant part of the textile industry. Interestingly, Turkey (which we know is relevant in Bible history) was nearly the exclusive producer of mohair for thousands of years. There are different types of mohair, whose prices depend on its properties—such as high natural luster, thickness, and feel (touch), as well as age, condition, and size. It’s expensive because it’s incredibly useful, beautiful, and strong. It’s soft but durable, so it lasts a long time. In particular, cloth made of this fiber would well suit the wear and tear of the constantly shifting tabernacle. Even with its value and desirability, it must’ve looked strange when contrasted to the gorgeous dyes and fine linen. The goat hair would be used to make the second innermost layer of the roof covering for the tabernacle. We’ll discuss the four layers and their materials in devotionals #177-179. It’s interesting that goat hair was used in the construction of the Sanctuary, as we also saw that live goats were used in the Sanctuary services as well. In devotionals #151 and 154, we learned about the two goats used in the Day of Atonement. The Lord’s goat was slain as a sin offering for the people, and the scapegoat had those sins confessed over him and led away by a strong man to the wilderness. This all symbolized the prevailing (eternal) nature of the separation between man and sin (and Satan). I find it very fitting, then, that Strong’s Concordance defines goat [hair] to be ‘strong, stout, prevailing, etc.’ It makes sense that goat hair would be used as a covering, considering why goat hair is layered the way it is. The outer layer (called ‘guard hairs’) is a coarse, thick hair that encloses the inner layer to keep is safe from the elements (heat and frost). Because it’s also highly absorbent and quickly gets rid of the moisture, the wet goat stays warm. The shorter inner layer (called the ‘undercoat’) is a soft, delicate, thin fiber that insulates the goat. These layers are separated by combing or blowing them so that the heavier fiber falls away. Notice how the hair is layered in such a way to protect the thing it covered from the harsh elements correlates to how Christ covers man with His robe of righteousness to protect from the harsh results of sin? I can’t help but wonder if the coats of skins that God made Adam and Eve after they sinned (in Genesis 3:21) were made of goat hair / skin.

[#163] Exodus 25:5 (Part 1)

In devotional #67, we saw Israel arriving to Elim, where there were twelve wells and seventy palm trees, and we discussed the symbolism of those numbers of perfection. We also saw that ‘Elim’ means ‘the rams’ or ‘the strong’, and that God had shown His power to save through the blood of the lamb (the offspring of the ram). I point this out because of what seems to be an obvious connection between the blood of the lamb covering the sins of man and the red-dyed rams’ skin covering the very place where man’s sins were to be addressed with God. In devotional #162, I mentioned how curious it’d be if the coats of skins were made of goat hair—but it’d be just as fitting (if not more so) if they were made of sheep skin. The goat hair formed the second innermost curtain / layer of the roof covering, and the red-dyed rams’ skins formed the third protective layer. In devotional #159, we learned about the symbolism of the crimson worm, and that it was used to create a gorgeous dye (called ‘Royal Red Dye’). This red dye was most likely what they used to dye the rams’ skins used for the tabernacle covering. They also used the dye in the purification ceremonies for leprosy-infected houses and people (see Leviticus 14:4-6; 51, 52). Another purification ceremony (see Numbers 19) involved burning a perfect red heifer and adding scarlet (the dye from the crimson worm) to its ashes. These are both beautiful connections, considering the sanctuary was where the people (and the house of God) were purified from sin. Another interesting thing is that Jewish historian, Josephus, says that crimson symbolizes fire—which we see used heavily in the sanctuary services, and itself symbolizes cleansing and purification in the Bible. As with the goat, we’ll see (in Exodus 29) that rams will also be used in the sanctuary service (as with many other sacrifices in the Bible). In devotional #47, we discussed the parallels between the Passover Lamb’s preparation / use and the consecration ram from Exodus 29, and we saw that the head, center, and legs were the most important parts. We also saw the significance of the meaning of those parts (‘to approach or bring / be near’, ‘to offer / present’, ‘to join’; ‘captain, chief, first’; ‘to bend the knee, prostrate, bow, cast down, stoop, sink’). I mention these definitions because they all relate to different aspects of the sanctuary service and its meaning. At the battle of Jericho, the men marched around the city walls blowing trumpets made of rams’ horns. The horns themselves couldn’t affect the walls, but they served to remind God’s people that their strength didn’t come from themselves, but from God—Who would do amazing things for His faithful ones—no matter the emergency they found themselves in. Likewise, their sacrifices and all the things in the sanctuary that they made couldn’t cleanse, let alone save, them from sin and its effects. These things only served to remind them that they had to fully trust in the God of their salvation.

[#164] Exodus 25:5 (Part 2)

There are small mammals called ‘badgers’, but from my research, it appears that this isn’t the animal referred to in verse 5. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘badger’ as ‘a (clean) animal with fur’, then says ‘probably a species of antelope’. It’s interesting that it specifies ‘clean’ animal, as all the animals (and/or their parts) used in the sanctuary are ‘clean’ animals (those which may be eaten, as seen in Leviticus 11), which we discussed in devotionals #69 and 70, and Genesis devotionals #53, 61, and 64. Others suggest that the badgers’ skins may refer to rhinos, unicorns, or other mythical land creatures, or to seals, dolphins, or other similar sea creatures (conversely, sealskins were used as roof coverings for Pagan temples, etc.). Yet none of these animals would fit the narrative, since they’re unclean animals which, after death, the Scriptures clearly instruct may not be touched (see Leviticus 5:2; Leviticus 11) or present in the camp (see Deuteronomy 23:14), let alone in the sanctuary / tabernacle itself (see Isaiah 52:11). Furthermore, Ezekiel 16:10 shows God telling His faithless bride that He clothed her with broidered work, gave them shoes of badgers’ skin, girded them with fine linen, and covered them with silk. All of these things sound luxurious—like royalty (as we’ve discussed concerning the dyes and precious materials). So it wouldn’t be consistent that He would use an unclean animal in the middle of that outfit, but rather, another fine material (such as an indigo leather). Many scholars have debated the meaning of this word for thousands of years, and no true conclusion has been met, but there’s one thing that’s fairly consistent throughout their studies. The Hebrew word translated to ‘badger’ here actually means ‘colored’ (or a specific color ranging between sky-blue and violet). In the context of the verse with ‘rams’ skins dyed red’, there’s a strong likelihood that this was a mere differentiation in the colors used to dye another leather (perhaps of the same animal)—in other words, it could’ve been another set of rams’ skins that were dyed blue instead of red (which seems to be supported by Josephus himself)—using the same dye discussed in connection with the fine linen and the blue and purple dyes from the cerulean mussel or sea snail (as we saw in devotionals #158 and 160). As we’ll see, when we discuss the gold structure of the tabernacle, indigo (blue) was such a precious dye that people referred to it as ‘blue gold’. This final skin (whatever it truly was), was the outermost curtain layer of the protective roof covering. Certain scholars suggest it would’ve been closer to the sky-blue color, which would’ve made the tent covering nearly indistinguishable from the sky itself. Having a blue covering over the entire sanctuary would make sense, considering all the significance we’ve discussed in light of the symbolism of Heaven and God’s throne.

[#165] Exodus 25:5 (Part 3)

Shittim (‘shittah’, in Isaiah 41:19) wood is ‘acacia’. Strong's Concordance discusses wooden sticks and thorns of ‘scourging’ (‘flog’, ‘goad’, ‘pierce’). In John 2:13-16, Jesus made a scourge and drove out the money exchangers, the animals, and their sellers, saying not to make His Father’s house one of merchandise. How interesting—in the context of the sanctity of the sanctuary being created. More importantly, Jesus foretold His death (in Luke 18:33), saying He would first be scourged. This was done with a whip, aka ‘flagellum’ or ‘flagrum’ (a Roman tool used on criminals). Professionally trained Roman soldiers carried out the most savage acts of torture. The flagrum’s wooden handle was roughly eight inches long, and the three ox-leather strings attached to its end were eleven to thirteen inches long. The strings had two or more lead balls to add weight (making it whip faster and rip flesh off with every single hit—leaving victims breathless and in agony—sometimes with their internal organs, veins, and arteries exposed). Some flagellums also included hooks on each bead (frighteningly called the ‘scorpion’), or shards of metal or sharp bone (like the sheep’s knucklebone—an interesting point in light of the torture of the Lamb of God). The Romans showed the victims their tool to intimate them before using a brutal hit and specific technique to make the pain very obvious—and to ensure the victim was 'a step away from death' before they were crucified. Jewish law forbade hitting someone over forty times, so Jews stopped counting at thirty-nine (in case they 'miscounted and sinned'), but the Romans had no such rule, striking their victims fifty times or more (based on the crime). They avoided the stomach, focusing on areas where the blood would gather least (like the back), so the victim wouldn’t bleed out before their crucifixion (one of the worst things that could happen to a person). The victim’s mangled back was then drug up and down against the wood of the cross with each breath. These things draw my mind to the Sanctuary's significance concerning the atonement of Christ for humanity. The Bible also references a place east of the Jordan (see Micah 6:5) called Shittim for its attractive, relaxing groves of acacia trees (where Israel camped). However, among them was a deadly evil. It reminded Israel of their home in Egypt by the Nile, but far worse, the inhabitants of this area publicly worshipped Baal in degrading and sinful practices, influencing Israel with their vile suggestions. I wonder if one reason God specified acacia was to symbolize cutting down these idolatrous groves. Now let's look at the practical reasons for using this wood for the tabernacle. Acacia tree wood was the least likely to decay among all other options at Sinai. It withstands climate changes well, and is one of the only woods that won’t be affected by fungi or pests. It’s a heavy, robust, hard wood (the hardest of all hardwoods)—highly dense and resilient, yet also flexible and easy to work with. It doesn't shrink or warp as other woods do—so the things made with it last for many years. Its resistance and durability makes it a great option for outdoor construction, building support beams, and carving (bowls, décor, etc.). It’s naturally smooth, and its core is a warm red color with dark, attractive veins (which all reminds me of Christ's blood)—making it an elegant material for indoor furnishings and floorboards. Despite its great features, it does require special care when processing, drying, and drilling, as it’s highly resistant to friction and prone to crack—hence another aspect of God’s foresight in the value in having knowledgeable craftsmen to do the work of building the tabernacle. Shittim wood would be used in the construction of every aspect of the sanctuary (and its furniture) except for the courtyard’s structure, the lampstand, and the bronze basin.

[#166] Exodus 25:6 (Part 1)

Verse 6 discusses substances to be donated. The first is oil for the use of lighting the lamp, which we’ll discuss in devotionals #173-176. Oil has much significance (and is mentioned 202 times) throughout Scriptures. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘oil’ here as ‘grease, especially liquid’, It also references ‘shine’. A prominent passage concerning oil is Matthew 25, the parable of the ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. They all slept while he tarried, but when his coming was announced, they rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish virgins begged the wise to share their oil, since their lamps had gone out and they hadn’t brought enough oil. They needed their own, though, so they had to go and buy it—but they returned to a closed door. When they asked to be let in, they were denied. They were to be watching because they didn’t know when he would come. In devotional #155, we discussed the parable’s meaning and learned that the wise virgins (who were ready with oil in their lamps and entered the wedding with Him before the doors were shut) represent those who know the truth and have God’s Spirit and grace (searching the Bible for more clarity while patiently waiting amid their trial). They learn, understand, and accept the truths of the Heavenly Sanctuary and Christ’s work, and follow Him by faith as He enters before God to do His final work of mediation. The oil symbolizes the Holy Spirit poured into our minds (as believers) so we can cooperate with Heaven. God’s gracious Spirit keeps the lamp from flickering, and we must shine in the world as lights, ready for God’s return, but bearing a lamp of profession is useless to send shed light without the oil of grace. It's so important to have a supply of oil to fill our lamps to satisfy those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, but we can’t receive it without preparing ourselves by self-examination and prayer. When the coming of the bridegroom is announced, those who don’t have the holy oil (aka, cherish the grace of Christ in their heart) will find themselves unprepared to meet their Lord. All ten virgins had lamps—which represent an outward appearance of piety, but only five truly had it inwardly. The oil of God’s Spirit nourished the faith, love, and patience of the five wise, waiting virgins, and it should be the same with all who desire Salvation. The Holy Spirit (the Spirit of life in Christ) wasn’t dwelling in the hearts of the foolish virgins, and when their lamps had gone out, they’d lost their faith, love, and knowledge of God and truth. Like the foolish virgins, any who act on the impulses of their natural character will find they’re out of oil. They couldn’t get the oil (Spirit) from the wise virgins because character can’t be transferred from one to another. They had no way of themselves to get the oil, and their lives were ruined. The only place to get it is by emptying the two holy olive trees from Zechariah 4. These two anointed ones—that stand by the Lord of the whole earth—fill the position that was once Satan’s as covering cherub. God continually communicates with humanity through the holy beings around His throne. They’re commissioned to take of God’s Holy Spirit, and then empty it from themselves (through the golden pipes into the golden bowl to feed the Sanctuary’s lamps) and give it to the churches (the clean, pure, sanctified souls prepared to receive it). The golden oil is the grace God supplies believers’ lamps with. God’s Spirit sends messages that prevent evil ones from completely controlling men. We reject the golden oil He desires to pour into us to share with those in darkness when we don’t receive these messages. Thus, each person must prepare himself by humbling himself and learning from Christ. In Exodus 29, we’ll see more about anointing oil, which symbolizes being anointed by the Holy Spirit.

[#167] Exodus 25:6 (Part 2)

In devotional #166, we saw the literal definition of ‘oil’. However, Strong’s Concordance provides a figurative definition: ‘richness’. We learned much concerning the purpose of the ‘oil’ (God’s Spirit), and we should look at some passages that expand on that. Paul prays, in Ephesians 1:17-19; 3:16-19, that God would give them the ‘Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him’, so that the eyes of their understanding may ‘be enlightened’. This would let them know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of His power towards those who believe. His prayer was that, by the riches of His glory, God would grant them to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, so Christ may dwell in their hearts by faith. This would let them be rooted and grounded in love so they may comprehend the width, length, depth, and height of—and know—the love of Christ, which passes knowledge. Then they may be filled with the fulness of God. All of this clearly shows that it’s God’s Spirit that gives us a clear understanding of Him (His character), and what having that knowledge will do for us. It also shows what it’ll allow us to do for others. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘being enlightened’—literally and figuratively—as ‘to shed rays (to shine / brighten up)’, ‘give / bring to light’, and ‘make to see’. Its root is ‘to shine / make manifest’, and ‘fire / light’. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light shine thus before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.” As we saw in devotional #166, the Spirit is given to believers, not just for ourselves, but so we can cooperate with Heaven in sharing light about God with others so that they can also benefit from it. In Genesis devotional #4, we discussed how God wanted the light of the knowledge of His character to shine in the darkened hearts (aka, those without understanding), as seen in 2 Corinthians 4:2-6, which shows how God’s Word is to be handled to manifest the truth to men. If our gospel’s hidden, it’s hidden to them that are lost. That’s because Satan has blinded unbelievers so that the light of Christ’s glorious gospel won’t shine to them. God wants us neither to be blinded nor to hide our light from others, as Revelation 18:23 says of Babylon: “The light of a candle will not shine in you anymore; and the voice of the bridegroom and bride will not be heard in you anymore…because all nations were deceived by your sorceries.” Instead, as Isaiah 60:1-5 says, He calls us to “Arise, shine; because your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen on you. Because look, the darkness will cover the earth, and gross darkness will cover the people: but the Lord will arise on you, and His glory will be seen on you. And the Gentiles will come to your light…lift up your eyes all around and see all those gathering themselves together to come to you…” God wants us to draw others to Him by sharing the light that He has given us. We do that by revealing the character of Christ that has developed in us as we’ve come to know Him as He is. To have Christ (by His Spirit) dwelling in—and shining out of—you is to have His fulness and be rich. Jeremiah 9:23, 24 says that he who glories should glory not in his own wisdom, might, or riches, but in the fact that he has been allowed to understand and know God, Who exercises lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness—which are the riches that He delights in, as Romans 11:33 says: “Oh the depth of the riches of both the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out!”

[#168] Exodus 25:6 (Part 3)

Strong’s Concordance defines ‘spice’ here as ‘fragrance’, ‘spicery’, and the ‘balsam plant’—and specifies it’s a sweet odor. Balsam is the sap / gum from certain trees / shrubs. Its name comes from the Balm of Gilead (aka Balm of Mecca or Balsam of Matariyya). It was a rare perfume used as medicine. In fact, the substance was known among Middle Eastern and European physicians as a ‘panacea’ (a universal cure for all diseases or difficulties). It was supposedly derived from an Egyptian plant (likely the terebinth tree) and produced in Gilead. In the Bible, it symbolizes universal cure. My favorite reference is Genesis 43:11, where Jacob has his sons take things to Egypt as a gift for the governor (Joseph), including ‘a little balm, myrrh, and spices’. This is incredibly beautiful, considering how the merchants they’d sold Joseph to were on their way from Gilead to Egypt—carrying balm, myrrh, and spicery (Genesis 37:25). Strong’s Concordance defines these spices as ‘aromatic gum’—perhaps styrax (which I’ll also discuss shortly), but also mentions the idea of being stricken, smitten, wounded, or broken. Fittingly, Isaiah 53:3-7 talks about Jesus, esteemed as stricken and smitten of God—Who was wounded for our sins—and thus we’re healed and saved (see also Hosea 6:1). Now, let’s look at the two tree sources. Terebinth is a small tree from the cashew family that gives a strong (bitter, resinous, medicinal) smell. Its leaves develop ‘galls’ in the shape of goat horns (hence the common Spanish name, ‘cornicabra’). Galls are external, swollen growths on plant tissues (like humans’ benign tumors or warts) caused by parasites (or even other plants / insects). Despite this blemish, the tree’s very strong and resistant, and survives where other plants couldn’t last. People got tannin from the galls (to tan leather) and turpentine to use in perfumes, stimulating ointments, and pharmaceuticals (especially as an anti-parasite). Some terpenes (like camphor, citral, linalool, and menthol—which produce other fragrances) can be derived from turpentine. The tree offers many other uses, including wine preservation and soap-making. Terebinth is referred to as ‘elah’ in the Old Testament—sometimes translated as ‘oak’. It often has to do with idolatry, especially associated with trees (see Genesis 35:4, Isaiah 1:29, 30). Styrax (‘storax’ or ‘snowbell’) are large shrubs or small trees from which people obtain the Benzoin or Storax resin by piercing the bark. It’s long been used in perfumes, medicines, and incense. It’s important in Islamic medicine, etc., as an antibacterial (great for use in first aid as a disinfectant and local anesthetic), promoting healing, and killing wound pathogens. Interestingly, it also acts like an herbicide—which deters caterpillars from eating it. This makes me think of the verses that talk about restoring what the locust and caterpillar have destroyed (take Joel 2:25, for example). Like Satan / sin, parasites don’t care about the host—it only uses him for its own needs. We’re like the tree with parasitic sores (sin), and the antiparasitic medicine can be equated with Christ (the Physician) and salvation from sin. The styrax tree’s resin is only gained by piercing the bark. Our healing / salvation was only possible because Christ’s hands (on the wooden cross) were pierced. The terebinth tree’s galls are caused by parasites, though the tree has antiparasitic properties—and it’s still strong and resistant even in its marred state. Christ (as representative man) was wounded (galled) by our transgressions, but His blood (anti-parasite) was what saved man from sin (parasite)—so that he could be strong / resistant to death despite the damage done by sin. Thus, it makes sense why God wanted these ingredients for the Sanctuary services. We’ll discuss their specific use in the anointing oil and sweet incense in Exodus 29.

[#169] Exodus 25:7

Onyx and other stones were the last items mentioned that were to be brought for the sanctuary service—specifically for the outfits to be worn by the priests who served there. Let’s start by looking at onyx, one of the first precious stones listed in the Bible (it’s named eleven times throughout Scriptures—which is more than any other stone)—first mentioned in Genesis 2:12—alongside bdellium (which may be a pearl) and gold in the land of Havilah. Job 28:16 puts the ‘precious onyx’ in the ranks of gold and sapphire when discussing the great value of wisdom. Strong’s Concordance defines ‘onyx’ as ‘a gem—probably the beryl (from its pale green color)’. It also shows that the word likely comes from a root word that means ‘to blanch’. ‘Blanch’ means ‘to make white or pale by extracting color’—which I find interesting, considering how the Sanctuary service has to do with Christ extracting our scarlet sins to make us white as snow. While the Bible doesn’t make much more reference to the significance of onyx, it does appear that it was prized, likely for its durability and beauty. While onyx is named specifically in verse 7, the ‘stones to be set in the ephod and breastplate’ aren’t quite so specific. If we look ahead to when the permanent temple was to be built by Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:2), King David mentioned many of the materials we’ve already looked at, wrapping up with a touch more detail concerning the stones that’d be needed: “onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of diverse colors, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.” ‘Glistering’ stones refer to ‘fair, painted colors’. Similar to onyx, ‘marble’ was defined by Strong’s Concordance to mean ‘to bleach / whiten’. However, when we get to Exodus 28 (where we’ll discuss the outfits these stones would be used for—specifically for the ephod and breastplate)—we’ll see that twelve specific stones were named: sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper. These stones represent the twelve tribes of Israel. In Revelation 21:18-21 (see also Isaiah 54:11, 12), we see the same stones discussed in the foundations of the wall of the city of New Jerusalem, which house the names of the twelve apostles of Christ. There’s great significance to all of this, but for now, I’d just like to take a quick look at the way ‘stones’ are used in Scriptures. The Bible commonly refers to us (God’s people) as stones. 1 Peter 2:3-8 shows that we are lively stones of which is comprised a spiritual house—a holy priesthood—to offer up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through Jesus—who is the living stone; the Chief cornerstone, elect, and ‘precious’. Those that believe in Him will not be confounded (disgraced). He is, therefore, precious to those who believe. But to the disobedient, He is the rejected stone—an offensive, stumbling block. It’s amazing how this passage highlights the priestly service in the Sanctuary. What’s a living stone? It’s one that can be polished enough to reflect an image. This is Christ. We come and look at Him, and when we do, we see ourselves. Consider 2 Corinthians 3:18. “But we all, with open face, beholding the glory of the Lord as in a glass, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” We know (from our discussion of this verse in devotional #90) that this means that our character is changed to be like Christ’s character by looking at Him. Thus, if He is the living stone, we become lively stones by looking at Him. As lively stones, we now also reflect the image of Christ when God looks at us (see 2 Corinthians 4:6). The church becomes the light of the world, a city set on a hill that can’t be hidden—like the New Jerusalem, whose foundations are precious stones that glisten and sparkle in the glory (character) of Christ.

[#170] Exodus 25:10-22 (Part 1)

Now that we’ve looked at all the materials required for the sanctuary, it’s time to get into the construction of the sanctuary and its instruments / furnishings. We’ll start with the ark of the testimony. Testimony refers to witness or ‘recorder’. As we’ll see shortly, the things contained in the ark were all designed to be a long-term record or testimony of important things between God and His people. This chest was to be made with shittim wood (devotional #165)—2.5 cubits long by 1.5 cubits wide by 1.5 cubits tall. In Genesis devotional #48, we learned that a cubit is typically measured as the length of the forearm from the middle fingertip to the bottom of the elbow, so today, a cubit is roughly the same as eighteen inches. This means the ark was to be roughly forty-five inches (3.75 feet) long and twenty-seven inches (2.25 feet) wide and tall (we should keep in mind that we don’t know how much larger the men were at that point in time, so this could be a little off). The ark’s exterior and interior were to be overlaid with pure gold, and a crown (moulding) was to be made around the perimeter of the top. They were to cast a golden ring for each of the four corners, with the holes facing down the length of the ark’s two sides. These would bear the two staves (bars) that would be used to carry the ark, which were also to be made of shittim wood overlaid with gold. Once the staves were inserted into the rings, they were not to be removed. Next, they were to make a mercy seat of pure gold, measuring 2.5 cubits long and 1.5 cubit wide (the same length and width as the ark itself). Strong’s Concordance shows that the ‘mercy seat’ was a lid / covering used only for the ark of the testimony. In each of the two ends of the mercy seat, they were to make a cherub. It specifies that they were to make them of beaten work, which Strong’s Concordance defines as ‘a rounded work, moulded by hammering out of one whole piece’. In other words, the cherubim weren’t added to the cover separately, but rather, the entire cover with the cherubim was made of one piece of gold. The cherubim’s wings were to spread above and cover the mercy seat. Their faces were to look to each other—reverently bowing towards the mercy seat. The mercy seat was then to be placed on the ark. The actual construction of the ark is shown in Exodus 37:1-9, and we’ll discuss the placement of the ark behind a vail in devotional #181. In verse 16, it appears that God would later tell Moses what to put inside the ark. However, verse 21 says it’d be the testimony that He would give Him—as seen in Deuteronomy 10:2, where God told Moses to carve out two stone tablets and to make a wooden ark, and go up to God in the mount for Him to rewrite the commandments to be placed into the ark. The ark was made specifically as a receptacle of the stone tablets on which God engraved the law. Hebrews 9:4, 5 shows that other things were eventually put inside as well. One item was the golden pot of manna (see the story in Exodus 16), which we discussed in devotional #72, where God told them to fill a pot with an omer of manna to be kept before the testimony for all generations to see how God sustained them in the wilderness. The other item was Aaron’s budded rod (see the story in Numbers 17), which Numbers 17:10 shows God directing Moses to put Aaron’s rod there as a token against the rebels so they’d stop murmuring, otherwise, they’d die (see Numbers 16 for context). Deuteronomy 31:26 shows Moses completing the book of the law and instructing them to place it in the side of the ark of the covenant as a witness against them, because they’d break the covenant they’d made with God.

[#171] Exodus 25:10-22 (Part 2)

The ‘ark of His testament’ that John saw in vision in Revelation 11:19 was represented by the sacred chest Moses built to hold the ten commandments in the earthly sanctuary. It says that “the temple of God was opened in Heaven, and the ark of His testament was seen in His temple”. This only happened in the earthly sanctuary on the Day of Atonement, for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Thus, this announcement (in John’s vision) points to the opening of the Most Holy Place in 1844 as Christ entered to do the closing work (which we discussed in devotionals #153, 154). Those following Him there by faith beheld the ark of His testament, where Christ was now pleading His blood on our behalf. The earthly tabernacle’s ark contained the two tables of stone with the ten commandments. It was also called the ark of His testimony or the ark of the covenant because the covenant God made with Israel was based on the ten commandments. The ark was simply a container for them, but the presence of these divine precepts made it valuable and sacred. The original law is enshrined in the ark of His testament in the Heavenly Sanctuary—showing the unchanging nature of His law. Matthew 5:18 says that, “until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle will in no wise pass from the law.” We’ve learned that God’s law is a revelation of His will and a transcript (record) of His character—and thus, it must endure as a faithful witness in Heaven, and as such, not a single commandment has been annulled or changed. Psalm 119:89; 111:7, 8 say, “Oh Lord, Your Word is settled in Heaven forever” and “The works of His hands are truth and judgment; all His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and righteousness.” Covering the sacred container (in the earthly sanctuary) was the mercy seat, where God would meet and commune with man from above it, between the cherubim. This symbolized God’s presence among His people. The cherubim’s inward and downward facing positions represented Heaven’s reverent awe of the law (that forms the very foundation of God’s government) and their interest in the work of redemption. The ark with its cherubim was patterned after the Heavenly ark, beside which living angels stand. They use one wing to spread out high and cover the mercy seat, and another to cover themselves reverently and humbly (similar to Ezekiel 1:11). What’s beautiful is that Strong’s Concordance defines this mercy seat ‘cover’ as a verb: ‘atone, cleanse, disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge, put off, reconcile’, etc. The law proclaims death for transgressors, but above it was the mercy seat where God’s presence was. Pardon is granted to repentant sinners there because of the atonement. So, as Psalm 85:10 says, “mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” in Christ’s redemptive work (as depicted in the Sanctuary). ‘Mercy’ seat is a fitting name then! It’s here that Christ continues pleading His blood on behalf of those who are truly repentant. This represents the union of justice and mercy in the plan of redemption—which only infinite wisdom and power could conceive and fulfill, and which fills Heaven with awe and love.

[#172] Exodus 25:23-30

The next furnishing discussed was the table of showbread. It was to be two cubits (roughly thirty-six inches or three feet) long by one cubit (eighteen inches or 1.5 feet) wide by 1.5 cubits (twenty-seven inches or 2.25 feet) tall. Like the ark, it was also to be made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold, with a golden crown (moulding) around its perimeter. It was to also have a border (as wide as a hand) around it with its own golden crown. This, too, was to have a golden ring put in each of the four corners (on the four feet), against the border to hold the staves for carrying the table (also made with shittim wood overlaid with gold). The table was to be covered with dishes (likely the bread pans used to carry the loaves), spoons (for sprinkling frankincense), covers and bowls (likely the jugs and cups used in the drink offering) made with pure gold. Exodus 37:10-16 shows the construction of the table, and we’ll discuss the placement of the table in devotional #181. In devotional #165, we learned that shittim wood was a tough, resistant wood that grows even in the desert. Isaiah 53:2 depicts Christ as One who would grow up as a root out of dry ground. He was a man Who was uncorrupted by death, decay, and resurrection. Thus, the wooden table overlaid with gold shows the union of His humanity and divinity in one person. Showbread (or shewbread) was to be constantly set on the table before God. Leviticus 24:5-9 shows how it was to be prepared and presented. As a meal offering from the twelve tribes of Israel, the priests were to make twelve cakes of fine flour (meal) with two tenths (of an ephah) in each and place them on the table in two rows of six each Sabbath. They were also to sprinkle them with pure frankincense, which was a whitish fragrant gum resin. Each Sabbath, while the priest consumed the bread after it was replaced with the fresh batch, they pulverized and burned the frankincense on the altar as “a memorial—an offering made by fire” to God. The Holy Place was thus filled with a balsam-like aroma. Frankincense was one of the gifts presented to Jesus at His birth (see Matthew 2:11), which pointed to the perfect, sweet fragrance of Christ’s life—and also to the Christian life that serves as a sweet fragrance of Christ to God (see 2 Corinthians 2:14, 15). Interestingly, ‘frankincense’ is defined by Strong’s Concordance as ‘the heart’. I can’t help but wonder if the ointment that Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet with her hair contained frankincense—especially since He said that she did it in preparation for His burial (see John 12:1-8). Even the replaced loaves were still considered holy, and thus, only the priests (Aaron and his sons) could eat them (in the Holy Place). The showbread was also called ‘continual bread’ (Numbers 4:7) and ‘hallowed (sacred, dedicated) bread’ (1 Samuel 21:1-6)—because it was to always be kept before God’s face as a perpetual offering. The bread was part of the daily sacrifice. The Hebrew word translated to ‘showbread’ means ‘bread of the presence’ (another common name for it). Israel was fed with Heavenly bread in the wilderness, and the showbread acknowledged that man still depended on God for physical and spiritual food, which is received only through meditating on Christ. The Bread of Life (Who is always in God’s presence on our behalf) was represented by the manna and showbread (see John 6:48-51). To “eat of this bread” (His ‘flesh’) is to spiritually absorb Christ in the way that we physically absorb the food we consume. The showbread (which, by nature of the service, had to be unleavened) symbolized the sinless life Christ would live. The flour was only fine by being refined by a process similar to the difficult experiences that Christ endured in His life. John 12:24 depicts His life as a single wheat grain dying to bring forth much fruit of the same character.

[#173] Exodus 25:31-40 (Part 1)

The last furnishing discussed in Exodus 25 was the golden lampstand. The candlestick was to be pure gold—and like the mercy seat with the cherubim, all its features (shaft, branches, bowls, knops, and flowers) were to be made of one piece—a talent of gold. That’s equivalent to about seventy-five pounds (or thirty-four kilograms)! Sources say that it was roughly three cubits high (about 5.3 feet or 1.62 meters). It was to have six branches (three on each side), and each branch was to have three almond-shaped bowls (with a knop and a flower). A ‘knop’ is an ornamental knob, defined by Strong’s Concordance as a ‘chaplet’, ‘the capital of a column’, or ‘a wreath-like button or disk on the candelabrum’. These probably looked like flower buds (or bulbs). The shaft of the candlestick would have four almond-shaped bowls with their knops and flowers. There would be a knop under each of the three pairs of branches. Verse 37 shows that there would be seven lamps total, meaning the shaft would hold the seventh—so this is likely where the shaft’s fourth set of bowls, knops, and flowers would be utilized. This makes a total of sixty-six features (nine on each of the six branches—for a total of fifty-four, and twelve on the shaft), which some believe represent the sixty-six Bible books. Whether this was God’s intention or not—it’s hard to say, but it is interesting that God’s Word is called a lamp. Its tongs (also called snuffers, in Exodus 37:23) and snuff dishes were also to be made of pure gold. Everything was to be made according to the patterns God gave Moses in the mount. Though called a candlestick, it didn’t utilize candles, but rather, oil lamps. The ‘bowls’ each held pure, beaten olive oil (as we’ll see in Exodus 27:20) and a cloth wick which, once saturated, was lit to provide a flame. The tabernacle had no windows, and it was the only light source—so they never extinguished all the lamps at once. Thus, they provided light day and night. Jewish historian, Josephus, said that three burned during the day—but others claim that only one lamp kept burning throughout the day—the center one. This would’ve been a miracle because it was given the same amount of oil as each of the others (and kindled first), but simply never stopped burning. They called this one the Western Lamp (because of where the wick pointed) and the Lamp of God (from 1 Samuel 3:3). ‘Lamp’ (or ‘lampstand’ or ‘candlestick’) is translated as ‘menorah’ in Hebrew. It’s Judaism’s oldest symbol and is still used today in their religious ceremonies. We know that the number seven symbolizes perfection in the Bible. It is said that the seven branches represent Creation week, with the center pillar representing the Sabbath. It’s neat to see the connection between this center lamp, which represents Sabbath, whose light miraculously lasted twice as long—and the Sabbath manna, which miraculously lasted twice as long. Judaism considers the menorah to represent ‘universal enlightenment’ (or wisdom)—so the seven lamps would refer to the branches of human knowledge. Six outer lamps lean inward towards—and are guided by—the seventh (central) lamp—the light of God. In devotionals #174-146, we’ll look at what the Bible has to say concerning the lampstand and lamps.

[#174] Exodus 25:31-40 (Part 2)

The lampstand’s branches are said to have resembled almond tree branches. There appears to be great significance of almond trees in connection with the Sanctuary. Ecclesiastes 12:5 shows the flourishing almond tree, which Strong’s Concordance suggests is the earliest blooming nut tree (early-bloomers—January or February—in that part of the world). It also further defines ‘almond tree’ as ‘to be alert, sleepless, on the lookout (for good or ill), hasten, remain, wait, watch for’. It’s interesting that the bulk of these definitions require light to see. One of these definitions (hasten) is particularly significant in this context. When God was calling Jeremiah (in Jeremiah 1:11, 12), He used the rod of an almond tree to illustrate His intention to hasten His word to perform what He said. Interestingly, Aaron’s rod (which we mentioned, in devotional #170, was later put into the ark of the testimony) was made of wood from the almond tree. The fact that it budded, bloomed, and produced almonds was miraculous for several reasons. Not only was it not a living branch of the tree (as some accused them of fraudulently replacing the rod with)—but normal branches never contained all three features (buds, blossoms, and fruit) at once. God caused this to indicate His selection of Aaron as high priest. As this golden lampstand was indeed tree-like in shape (even if not an almond tree)—it’s hard to ignore the similarity of its symbolism when compared with two others in Scriptures: Eden’s tree of life and the burning bush (from Moses’ call). Let’s look at the tree of life here (and the burning bush in devotional #175). In Genesis devotionals #29 and 30, we learned about the immortalizing (eternal life-giving) ‘power’ of the tree of life, and how two Cherubim and a flaming sword were placed at the east of the garden to keep (maintain, preserve, signal, flag, identify) the way to the tree of life. In other words, that flaming sword served as a lamp for our feet and a light for our path—back to [the tree of] life. Jewish historian, Josephus, said that the menorah was situated diagonally—to the east and south. The Bible references lamps quite a bit—often referring to God, His Word, His law, and His righteousness as one. In John 8:12, Jesus said that He is “the light of the world”, and that whoever follows Him wouldn’t walk in darkness, but have the light of life. John 1:4, 5 says, “In Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shined in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it.” 2 Samuel 22:29 similarly says of Him, “You are my lamp, Oh Lord: and the Lord will lighten my darkness.” Since we know that Christ (the Son of God) is also known as the Word of God (John 1:1-5), then how perfect it is that Psalm 119:105 says, “Your Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” So, while the lamp provided light for the Holy Place, it also represented Christ—the light and salvation (life) for the people (see Isaiah 62:1). The candlestick and tree of life can also appropriately be paralleled with the cross—the ‘second’ tree of life (because without the fruits borne on that tree, we’d have no hope of eternal life). Man’s first sin cut them off from the tree of life, but Christ becoming sin for them (back in the spring of 31 AD) gave new life—like blossoming almond buds in the spring. Like Aaron’s rod had buds (knops), blossoms (flowers), and fruit (almonds) on it to show God’s selection of him as High Priest, the lamp with these three features likely symbolized the same thing for the true High Priest (see Hebrew 5:1-10). Hebrews 9:11, 12 shows that Christ is “a High Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands…not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered into the Holy Place once, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

[#175] Exodus 25:31-40 (Part 3)

In devotional #173, we saw how the center lamp miraculously never stopped burning, which is like Moses’ bush that burned without being consumed. The lampstand was in the Sanctuary’s Holy Place, and God told Moses that ‘the place’ where he stood (before the burning bush) was ‘holy ground’. Both places were holy because of God’s presence. Acts 7:35 refers to the one who appeared to Moses in the bush as an ‘angel’ (which we learned, in devotional #16, was Christ Himself). The Bible often refers to ‘messengers’ as ‘angels’ (the definition given by Strong’s Concordance)—and can refer to both Heavenly and earthly beings. In Revelation 4:5, John saw “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God”. These were represented by the earthly sanctuary’s golden candlestick. Revelation 1:4; 3:1; 5:6 also mention these seven Spirits. Hebrews 1:7, 13, 14 references Psalm 104:4, which says, “Who makes His angels spirits; His ministers a flaming fire.” These Spirits are messengers sent to all the earth to minister to future heirs of Salvation. In Revelation 1, John saw seven golden candlesticks. One like the Son of Man (with seven stars in His right hand) walked among them. Verse 20 plainly states that the seven candlesticks are the seven churches, and seven stars are the angels of those churches. The Son of Man walking among them represents Christ’s movement between churches, congregations, and individuals—providing His tireless watch-care, presence, and grace. He is the One that provides the oil for, and kindles, the burning lamps—they don’t shine on their own. By dispersing the light of God’s glory, their light only burns brighter—otherwise, they have no light at all and become containers of darkness. Isaiah 50:11 shows that those that walk in the light of the fire they kindle with their own sparks will lie down in sorrow. In Revelation 2, 3, the seven churches are addressed by One with specific trait(s) that relate(s) to each. Ephesus is addressed by “He that holds the seven stars in His right hand, Who walks in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks”. In verses 4, 5, they’re warned: “…You have left your first love. Therefore, remember where you fell from, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick from his place...” This verse shows great significance of having a candlestick / lamp—supported by Proverbs 13:9; 20:20, “The light of the righteous rejoices, but the lamp of the wicked will be put out…the lamp of whomever curses his father or mother will be put out in obscure darkness.” To ‘lose your first love’ is to have a moral fall, and to ‘lose your candlestick’ is to experience moral darkness. The removal of our candlestick symbolizes the loss of spiritual discernment (to perceive what is truth, how God estimates a person’s value, etc.). We can no longer receive the truth if we lose interest in it. This often happens when confusion enters—we mistake darkness for light (and vice versa), idolatry for religion, human wisdom for God’s wisdom, etc. We allow the worries of life to consume our minds until they have no room for God. People can’t give God’s messages to the world when they still possess sinful characters. But if we reject God’s correction, it’ll eventually stop being sent, and we’ll be left in darkness to kindle our own sparks. Thus, we must undergo a daily cleansing of sin by humble surrender to God. The churches have been chosen as storehouses for God’s law, and only by submitting to God’s word can they reset the candlestick in his place—showing that God’s presence is with them. God gives people work to do in taking the light to those in darkness. What Christ wants them to spread is love. The first work they need to return to doing is to love others (see John 13:34, 35), so that all can be led to salvation.

[#176] Exodus 25:31-40 (Part 4)

In Matthew 5:14-16, Christ says that we’re the light of the world. As a city set on a hill can’t be hidden, a candle isn’t lit and put under something—but on a candlestick where it provides light for all who enter the house. Like the tree of life was placed in the middle of the garden—the lamp was put in the sanctuary to provide light for the whole place. The sanctuary’s lamps were like the ancient oil lamps made of pottery, which is fitting since we’re called the Potter’s clay (see Isaiah 64:8). Exodus 25:37 says these seven lamps were to be lit “that they may give light over against it.” ‘It’ refers to the candlestick (Numbers 8:2). As the candlestick reflects the light from the lamps—we’re to plainly give the world the valuable truths revealed to us. We’re to be like a lighthouse that guides people safely into harbor, so they don’t shipwreck in darkness. Our purpose as the lampstand is to hold the lamp so God’s glory can shine out in the darkness of the world. Oil (the Holy Spirit) must burn inside the lamp for light to shine out. Without the lamp and oil, the lampstand is meaningless. As we’re simply told to bear fruit by being in the vine (Christ)—not by forcing it—Jesus told us to ‘let’ our light shine, not to ‘labor’ for it to. Our life in Christ will naturally attract people out of darkness to glorify God. We talked about lamps (and their oil) in devotionals #155 and #166 and saw the Zechariah 4 vision of an all-gold candlestick. It had a bowl and seven lamps (which had seven pipes to them) on top of it. There was an olive tree on the bowl’s right side and another on its left. They emptied golden oil out of themselves through two golden pipes into the candlestick’s bowl, which supplied the lamps. The olive trees are the two anointed ones that stand in God’s presence. Through the Spirit (see Zechariah 4:6), they present God’s light, love, power, and grace to the people dedicated to the work of sharing it with others. As the lamps can’t fill themselves with the oil needed to provide light, our hearts can’t reflect light without being connected to Heaven. We need a constant refill of the golden oil so the flame doesn’t die out. Only then can there be a steady burn of selfless love for Christ and those He died for. God’s love must be a living principle in our hearts. Some Bible translations refer to the lampstand’s tongs (snuffers) and snuff dishes as wick trimmers and trays. The Bible discusses ‘trimming your lamps’ (see Matthew 25:7). This refers to trimming the wick (which pulls the oil up from its reservoir container) to produce a clean, bright flame. How similar does this sound to the principle of pruning a tree to produce good fruit? It’s hard for us to show a clean, bright example of who Christ is if we have hard, black hearts (wicks). In devotional #156, we learned that gold symbolizes divinity. The lampstand was made of pure gold so there was no dross / mixture. Luke 11:33-36 says that the light of the body is the eye, so when the eye is single to righteousness, the whole body is full of light, and vice versa. We have to be careful that the light in us isn’t actually darkness. Romans 1:18-23 tells us that God’s wrath is revealed against the ungodliness and unrighteous of the “men who hold the truth in unrighteousness” (like holding the lamp unrighteously) because the truth about “God is manifest in them because He showed it to them”. God’s invisible things (even His eternal power and Godhead) from the creation of the world are clearly seen—being understood by the created things—so they have no excuse, “because when they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” They professed to be wise, but “they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image make like corruptible man” and creatures.

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