Exodus 25-27

These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

Exodus 25-27 Inductive Bible Study

Outline:

  1. I. People contribute to the tabernacle whole heartedly (1-9)
  2. II. The Ark of the Covenant (10-22)

III. Table of Showbread (23-30)

  1. IV. Golden Lampstand (31-40)
  2. Curtains of Linen Inner Curtains (26:1-6)
  3. VI. Curtains of Goats’ Hair Outer Curtains Forming the Tent over the Tabernacle (7-14)

VII. Wooden Structure (15-30)

VII. IThe Veil in front of the Holy of Holies (31-36)

  1. IX. Bronze Altar (1-8)
  2. X. Outer Court (9-21)

General Discussion Questions

What was the purpose of this tabernacle? What other Old Testament structure could it be compared to?

What is the difference between the tabernacle and the temple?

Use one word adjectives to describe the tabernacle (holy, beautiful, mobile).

What impressions did YOU have as you read through these chapters on the tabernacle?

General Thoughts

The tabernacle was the precursor to the temple. A full-fledged temple could not be built because the Israelites were moving here and there. That would require building an entirely new temple in every location, completely impractical. The tabernacle, on the other hand, was built with mobility in mind. It could be quickly and easily raised up, and taken down and taken apart for easy transport. Notice that there are no large pieces. Most of the things could be broken down.

The tabernacle’s holy of holies was to be the physical place where God sometimes descended in the Shekinah glory (Leviticus 16:2). This physical presence of the glory of God in the tabernacle was a reminder to all the people of God’s favor and His grace, as well as His covenant. It was a reminder that God had chosen them to be His special people, His holy nation. It was a reminder that God would keep His covenant with them by providing for and protecting them according to all the promises He had made for them. It was a reminder to the people to keep their side of the covenant by obeying the commands of God which He had set down for them.

The tabernacle was also a picture of spiritual truths. Like what? It was a picture of the truth that our sins have made a gap between us and God (Isaiah 59:2). The people were not free to approach God directly. Somebody (the priests, and specifically the high priest once per year) had to be a mediator to go between sinful man and a holy God. Somebody had to enter the holy of holies as a representative of the people, cf Aaaron in Leviticus 16:2-19.

It was a physical reminder of the need for atonement for sin, specifically atonement by blood sacrifice, see Hebrews 9:22.

More Supplemental Info –

THE TABERNACLE stood just beyond the laver. It was a rectangular tent divided into two rooms or compartments, the first, or eastward one, being 30 feet long by 15 feet high and wide. The second, or westward compartment, was a cube, measuring 15 feet each way.

To start with, all the peoples tents were pitched facing the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a focal point of everyone’s life, because God did care for them and provide for them.  Today we have a choice in our own lives to either pitch our tents and face God and dwell with Him and He with us as He is the center of everything and in doing so life is better or we put ourselves in the center of life and the result will all be disastrous. Keeping Him in the center is a way to get rid of doubt, depression and a host of other problems that seem to come upon us. We all go through the fires in life, but depending on where we pitch our tents, either towards Him or towards ourselves will always have two different outcomes and results. Pitching our tents towards Him will always bring peace, the fruit of the Spirit, stability and His supply as El Shaddai even in the hottest fires in life.

Then and today it is not about building permanent structures or buildings so He would dwell with us, but in us dwelling with Him, focused on Him, He is present.

(thick outer covering, a red covering, a gray covering and an embroidered covering)

Outside the Tabernacle the twelve tribes were positioned in a particular order. It should be noted that one of the important aspects of the Tabernacle is that everyone pitched their tents all facing the Tabernacle. All were very focused on God and the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit at least when it all began. Much like today with people that are filled with His Spirit at first are very focused on the things of God, often after a while many loose focus and get caught up back in the things of the world. It is important to understand that it was important for the Israelites as well as believers today to stay focused on our particular calling and purpose. Back in the days of the Tabernacle if they stayed focused everyone of the priests had a particular job to take down the Tabernacle and move it. There was a cloud by day and fire by night. If it moved the people had to be ready to move everything at a moments notice, because God provided everything for them. Much like today if we stay focused He does seem to provide for us and take care of our needs. It is one of the benefits of coming to God through Jesus and staying focused on God and not of the things of this world. It is a simple lesson that is often forgotten or not understood.

Placement of the Tabernacle: 

The Tabernacle was placed a certain way length wise from east to west. The only way in then was the East Gate. The only way in today is the East Gate, which is Christ, both and head and body. The facts are if we His people do not do what we are called to do, people will not even know to go through the gate. To the east the tribes of Judah, Issachar and Zebulun faced. To the west facing the Tabernacle the tribes of Ephraim, Manesseh, which is from Joesph and Benjamin were positioned outside of the outer wall. To the north Dan, Naphtali and Asher and to the south Rueben, Simeon and Gad. Inside in the outer court the priests or Levites performed the duties of the priests.?evi dwelled in the outer court.

Also on the outside there was another alter which is not talked about much which was set aside for the priests and the high priests. It was a place where God dealt with priests and their own sin to prepare them to even enter the east gate so they could represent the ways of God.

THE GATE: The Way, the Truth and the Life The Way: Jesus Christ, Yahweh  (East Gate) John 14:6

  1. Chapter 25:1-9

The building of the tabernacle got off to a good start. Notice that God (through Moses) asks the people for a contribution. However, no one is taxed. No one is forced to give. It is a free-will offering. From this we can get a couple of principles. Firstly, there are some cases where it is reasonable to let a need be known and give people the opportunity to give. Churches and the like need not be shy about mentioning needs and asking for offerings. But the people were not to be forced to give. Some churches put lots of pressure on people to give, to the point where a person might feel uncomfortable and or guilty for not giving. What is the problem with this? The problem is that after this kind of pressure it is not like giving at all! It robs the true givers of the blessing of giving freely from their own heart and pushes some to give who might feel bitter or upset about it. Basically, it lessens the quality of the gift. See 2 Corinthians 9:7.

We would do well to learn from the Israelites here. From Exodus 35:21-29 we can see that they gave so faithfully and generously they had to be restrained from giving any more. This is how God wants us to give. Do not give because you feel guilty or because you see others giving or you feel uncomfortable if you don’t give. Give generously in response to the great love and grace and blessings God has poured out on you. We should be happy that we have a chance to do something in return for God. Give example again of Bill Gates. Would you want the chance to do something in return for him or would you feel begrudged and bitter about it? Hopefully you would feel happy that in some small way you could ?eturn the favor.Yet some people don’t. Any biblical example of someone who wasn’t happy to return the favor? The servant who was forgiven tons of gold wouldn’t forgive his servant three months wages.

Remember also that just before leaving Egypt, they received all kinds of precious articles from their neighbors? Likely much of what they dedicated to use for the tabernacle was these very same articles. God’s miracle gave them these things. It would be so selfish to say ?INEand refuse to give back some to God. Luke 14:33

  1. Chapter 25:10-22

Judaism, as a general rule, rejects physical manifestations of spirituality, preferring instead to focus on actions and beliefs. Indeed, the story of Judaism begins with Abraham, the original iconoclast, who, according to ancient sources, shattered the idols that were the conventional method of religious observance at the time. Worship of graven images is harshly condemned throughout the Torah, and perhaps the greatest sin the Israelites collectively committed was the construction of the Golden Calf (in Ex. 32), intended to serve as a physical intermediary between them and God. Today, Jews do not venerate any holy relics or man-made symbols.

But early in the history of the Jewish people, there was one exception to this rule, one man-made object that was considered intrinsically holy. The Ark of the Covenant, constructed during the Israelites’ wanderings in the desert and used until the destruction of the First Temple, was the most important symbol of the Jewish faith. The legends associated with this object, and the harsh penalties ascribed for anyone who misuses it, confirm the Ark’s centrality to the Jewish faith of that period; the fact that Jews and non-Jews alike continue to study and imitate it confirms its centrality even today.

The ark was a symbol for God’s presence with the Israelites. The Cherubim are often denoted associated with God’s majestic glory and presence (Ez 10:1-22, 1 Samuel 4:4, Isaiah 37:16). The Ark was to be placed in the Holy of Holies, where the High Priest would visit once per year and then still the wings of the Cherubim were to symbolically cover the presence of God. God used this Ark to demonstrate His divine power at times such as for example when crossing the Jordan river or destroying the Philistine idols. It was to go before the people when traveling, as a symbol that God was their leader and they were to follow wherever He led.

Because the Ark was holy, no one was to directly touch it. Violators of this command would die.

The Ark was to store the Ten Commandments, as well as a jar of mannah, Aaron’s staff, and the bronze snake. These were all physical reminders of God’s law, His miracles, and His provision.

III. Chapter 25:23-30

Table of Showbread. This was a table for bread to be put out on. The priests on duty were to eat this bread in the Holy Place each Sabbath (Lv 24:5-9). What was the purpose of this bread? According to MacArthur this bread was a visible symbol of God’s continued provision for His people. There were twelve loaves to symbolize the twelve tribes. God didn’t leave anyone out or forget anyone. A priest could see these loaves (which were put out rain or shine no matter what happened) and remember that would take care of them.

There are also certainly Messianic implications here as with much of the tabernacle. We know that the Old Testament Covenant has many foreshadows of the perfect New Covenant which was to come and be implemented by the Messiah. The bread appears to be one of these foreshadows, since Jesus was the bread which came out of heaven (John 6). Jesus provides physical sustenance, but more important is the spiritual bread of life. If we come to Him, we will never go hungry. At that time the priests at it on behalf of the people, but from the time of Jesus everyone can come to Him and eat the bread He offers on their own individually.

Jesus said ? am the Bread of Life.”

  1. Chapter 25:31-40

Golden Lampstand.

This lampstand had a very practical use. What was that? It was to give the priests light to conduct their work inside the tabernacle! Yet even the simplest and most practical of objects was to be ornately designed, beautiful, and make use of the very best materials that man possesses. This is a reminder that God deserves man’s absolute best in everything, even in seemingly small details.

Everything was to be made according to God’s pattern (40). God had a specific plan and design that was to be followed. It was to be done in a clear and orderly way. 1 Corinthians 14:33.

This too has Messianic foreshadows. What? Jesus said He is the Light of the World. The lampstand served as a physical light for the priests. It was never to be extinguished, but was to burn 24/7. Symbolically, it could demonstrate that God would use the priests and the Israelites as a light to the world, to show all the people the truth and attract all people to Himself. The Israelites ended up to be poor messengers of this truth, but Jesus came as the true and perfect light to the whole world.

Jesus said,” I am the Bread of Life.”

  1. Chapter 26:1-6

Curtains of Linen.

These were to be the inner curtains for the tabernacle. The curtains would be somehow hung over the boards (15-…) This would create a rich and beautiful and vibrant inside for the tabernacle. See again that only the absolute best materials were to be used. God deserves our very best. Even our best is not nearly good enough (compare for example the tabernacle to the throne room in heaven as seen in Ezekiel, Isaiah, Revelation), but we should give it anyway. These curtains were to be made piece by piece with interlocking pieces to connect them into one big sheet. This would make them very mobile so that they could be put together and taken apart easily and quickly for transport. These curtains, too were to be made with cherubim woven into them. What is the significance of these cherubim.

  1. VI. Chapter 26:7-14

Curtains of Goats’ Hair.

These were the outer curtains. They were not as fancy or beautiful. The function of these curtains was different. What was the function of these curtains? They served as a ?ent(7) for the whole tabernacle. The tabernacle was actually a tent, not a building. Again, this was for the purpose of mobility. These curtains of goats’ hair would protect the inside of the tabernacle from natural forces like the sun, sand, dust, dirt and water (perhaps the porpoise skins were used to kind of waterproof the outside of this tent.)

VII. Chapter 26:15-30

Boards and Sockets

A cubit, by the way, is about 18 inches. These boards were to serve as the primary structure/frame for the tabernacle. The curtains would be hung over them. Notice that there were no nails or permanent fixtures. The boards were fitted with ?enons.This appears to be a type of interlocking connection by which the boards could fit together like a puzzle and then also be snapped out. The entire design is based on mobility. These boards were to be overlayed with gold. Only the best was to be used for God’s tabernacle.

VIII. Chapter 26:31-36

Veil. See https://www.goodseed.com/pdf/tabernacle/tab_lesson08.pdf

  1. Chapter 27:1-8

How big was the altar? What was the purpose of it? Why was it so important to make this as it was shown to him on the mountain (8)?

https://www.the-tabernacle-place.com/tabernacle_articles/pdf/tab_lesson03_answer.pdf

The brazen altar, bronze altar, or altar of sacrifice was situated right inside the courtyard upon entering the gate to the tabernacle. The Hebrew root for altar means “to slay” or “slaughter.” The Latin word alta means “high.” An altar is a “high place for sacrifice/slaughter.” The altar stood raised on a mound of earth, higher than its surrounding furniture. This is a projection of Christ, our sacrifice, lifted up on the cross, His altar, which stood on a hill called Golgotha.

The altar was made of wood from the acacia tree and overlaid with bronze (usually symbolic of judgment on sin in the Bible), measuring 7.5 feet on all four sides and 4.5 feet deep. Four horns projected from the top four corners and a bronze grating was inside to hold the animal.

The altar was the place for burning animal sacrifices. It showed the Israelites that the first step for sinful man to approach a holy God was to be cleansed by the blood of an innocent creature. For a sin offering, a person had to bring an animal — a male one without blemish or defect from the flock or herd — to the priest at the tabernacle gate.

“He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him.” (Leviticus 1:4)

By laying his hand upon the head of the offering, the person was identifying with the sacrifice. His sin and guilt was being moved from himself to the animal. The priest would then slaughter the animal, sprinkle its blood in front of the veil of the Holy Place, burn the sacrifice, and pour the rest of it at the bottom of the altar. Blood is a significant agent of atonement (covering for sin; click on link to read more detailed definition) and cleansing in the Old Testament.

“For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)

“The law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22)

The Significance of the Tabernacle Sacrifices

Although the blood of the sacrifices covered over the sins of the Israelites, they had to perform the sacrifices year after year, for they were not freed permanently of a guilty conscience. However, Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, came as the ultimate and last sacrifice for mankind when He offered up His life. As Isaiah prophesied, the Christ would be like a lamb that is led to slaughter and pierced for our transgressions. His blood was sprinkled and poured out at the cross for us. The Bible says much about this:

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24)

“For you know that … you were redeemed … with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” (Hebrews 9:13-14)

“We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. ?y one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. ?nd where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.” (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 18)

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Horns were a symbol power and strength in biblical times. When the sacrifice was made, blood was dabbed on the horns of the altar, signifying the power of the blood to atone for sins. In the same way, there is mighty power in the blood of Christ. Jesus is the “horn of our salvation” (Psalm 18:2, Luke 1:69).

The animal sacrifices bore reference to the Passover lambs, which the Israelites slaughtered in like manner to save their firstborns from the last plague of God’s judgment on Egypt (Exodus 12:1-13). Similarly, as the Passover lambs were eaten after they were slaughtered, some of the sacrificial lambs also were eaten. Just as the sacrificial lambs were sacrificed and eaten, so Jesus’ body was sacrificed and “eaten.” It was no coincidence that on the night before the Passover when Jesus was crucified, He “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ?ake and eat; this is my body? (Matthew 26:26). Earlier Jesus had taught His disciples:

“I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)

Jesus Himself is the Lamb of God as well as the Passover Lamb for those who believe in Him.

  1. Chapter 27:9-21

What is this court? Who could enter it?

The tabernacle sanctuary stood in the western half of a rectangular courtyard whose dimensions were 100 x 50 cubits (150 feet x 75 feet). The tabernacle was situated from East to West with the entrance facing East. The visible cloud of God descended down upon the tabernacle:

Exod 40:38 For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.

Any common Israelite could enter the courts but only the priestly tribe could go beyond and into the Tabernacle and only the high priest could go beyond still into the holy of holies once per year on Yom Kippur, The Day of Atonement.

First, we will see how one of the children of Israel, who was a covenant believer, could enter into the front part of the outer court, to the bronze altar, where the sacrifice was offered. God had said that the soul that sinned must surely die. Sin always brings death. That is a law of God. Therefore, the person that sinned immediately had the sentence of death upon him. However, God said that the one who had sinned was permitted to bring a substitutionary sacrifice to die in their place. It had to be a clean and perfect sacrifice of the kind specified for sin. They could not bring money or fruit or anything except a blood sacrifice. If an Israelite sinned and if he was circumcised he had the oppurtunity to approach the tabernacle with his sacrifice. This gave him access through the gate or the first curtain to the outer court.

If he were a covenant person and had an acceptable sacrifice he could bring it to the bronze altar. There he could lay his hand on the head of the sacrifice and confess his sin. Then the priest gave him a flint knife and he cut the troat of the sacrifice. By laying his hand on the head of the sacrifice and confessing his sin he identified his life with the sacrifice’s death. He realized that the sentence of death was upon him but the lamb or goat was dying in his place. The priest, then, caught the blood in a basin and dipped his finger in the blood and put it upon the four horns of the altar and splashed the blood on the side of the altar and the person’s sin was forgiven. Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. HEB 9:22 And according to the Law, {one may} almost {say}, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

For more on the tabernacle and its significance when compared with Christ and his sacrifice see Hebrews 9.

Study Exodus 28-31

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