READ EXODUS 25
I was born and raised in Iowa. I love my hometown – the warm, midwestern people and the way neighbors know each other. I love that you can drive just about anywhere in the summer and spot growing cornstalks from your car. I love having friends who lived in 8th-floor condos and others who lived on 80-acre farms. I love my home state. I love being from Iowa.
But when I moved away to college in Chicago (Moody Bible Institute, where I studied for undergrad) I found that my love for Iowa was not a commonly held conviction. Many friends from coastal states referred to Iowa as a “fly over state” and it made me bristle. It didn’t make me mad that they had no desire to visit Iowa. But it did make me a bit sad. They had no idea how much they were missing out on.
Last week we laid the groundwork for the tabernacle instruction. And, as always, I’m amazed at how much there is to glean in apparent “fly over” passages like Exodus 24. We can see these passages one of two ways: as something to quickly move past, or as something that is a blessing to study. This week, we’re diving into chapter 25, and even when it seems rudimentary and we are tempted to push past it, we must remember: we have no idea how much we could be missing out on.
Read Exodus 25:1-9. Who is to provide the means for the construction of the tabernacle?
What words does God use to describe those who will give to the building efforts?
God doesn’t call His people to build a tabernacle and miraculously provide all the building materials. When we recall the situation of the nation of Israel at the time this call came, the seeming lack of divine provision seems a bit harsh. Knowing that they are a group of recently-freed slaves who are wandering in the desert and hearing this call to bring all sorts of materials to build the place of God’s presence makes us wonder: is God asking the impossible?
Read verses one through nine again. All the items God called His people to contribute can be broken into two categories. How would you describe these two categories?
God told His people to collect either precious materials – like metals and jewels and acacia wood – or resources from animals.
Where do you think the Israelites would get precious materials? (Hint: Think back to their exodus from Egypt.)
Where do you think they would get resources from animals?
God is calling the Israelites to contribute two things: precious materials or animals. We know from the book of Exodus that when God led the nation out of Egypt, He promised that they would go out with the nation’s wealth. And He kept HIs promise. As the people of God exited Egypt, Egyptians gave them their gold and fine silver, their metals and expensive materials. As a nation of slaves, these were likely the most expensive, prized items they owned. And God was calling them to give them up.
But what about the Israelites who didn’t get precious materials in the exodus? What about those who were too young at the exodus to be given such goods, but were now grown and responsible to respond to this call? They could use their hunting skills to find animals outlined by God and bring their skins and fir to contribute to the temple.
What do these two categories of things have in common?
Though the list of required resources may seem odd to us, God is teaching His people a clear lesson: God’s presence requires sacrifice. Though the former slaves may have wanted to cling to the gold bowl they received at the exodus because it was the thing worth the most money in their possession, God wanted them to know that the wealth of Egypt would not be their salvation. Though it came at great cost, God’s presence in the tabernacle would be their greatest good.
And for those bringing animals to the building site, they had a profound picture of what it cost to build God’s home. As they slaughtered an animal, cleaned the carcass, and dried the skin, they were well aware: God’s presence must come through sacrifice.
How do you see the Gospel in this?
PRAY & REFLECT
Thank God that His presence is your greatest good. Praise Him that we might have access to His presence through the perfect sacrifice He provided: Jesus.